Now let's talk about the 4 main principles (the 4Ps) of the Toyota Production System:
- Make decisions based on a long term PHILOSOPHY;
- Continuously develop your PEOPLE (& partners);
- The right PROCESS will produce the right result;
- Make PROBLEMS visible and the core of your learning
As coaches (leaders), we are responsible to continuously help develop the people whom we've hired and come to work every day, sometimes for months, sometimes for years, sometimes for decades. The process of A3 is a really good way to continuously develop leaders. Employees who lead an A3 are asked to select a 3 to 5 person team. They're asked to lead multiple meetings to solve a problem using the scientific method (define-measure-analyze-improve-control). They're asked to lead their team through some root cause analysis, implement countermeasures, and finally.......gulp!!!!!!.....present what they've learned to their peers.
Now, I've been involved in thousands of improvements using the A3 process. I've also heard hundreds of potential A3 leaders say....."I'll do it, but I don't have to talk, do I?!?! I have always been able to convince people to move forward. Usually I tell them I will be standing right next to them, or I will help get them started.
Long story short. The first time they "close" an A3, beads of sweat form across their brow, and sometimes they develop a case of the chills. They stammer and stutter. The skin color changes to blush or magenta. They speak softly and often very quickly. But they survive.
Push the clock forward about 10 A3s into the future. Suddenly, they are calm, cool, and collected. They answer questions from the audience calmly. They find themselves helping other nervous first timers. Just imagine the competitive advantage of having an entire company of people capable of problem solving and teaching!
Want good team players? Make sure people work on lots of teams. Good root cause analysts? Do 5 why a lot. Good communicators? Work to get people communicating a lot. These are all life skills that can't be accomplished by watching PowerPoints. Learn by doing. Taking the leap. As a leader, I'm here to catch you, or pick you up.
Continuously develop your people. THAT is the real work of good leaders and the best coaches on the planet.