Monday, February 27, 2017
Fail Faster!! by Pat Hughes
Today's guest columnist is Pat Hughes, a friend of mine who works at Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc. (North Haven, CT) as Manufacturing Analyst/Project Leader. She is an experienced lean and agile practitioner, dog trainer and my consigliere!
It is amazing how Lean Concepts seem to appear everywhere once you become more familiar with them and gain some hands-on experience. I am reading a book Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman recommended to me by one of our senior executives. The book is about the acceleration in the rate of change we are experiencing in our world today.
In the book’s introduction the author quotes Eric “Astro” Teller the CEO of Google’s X research and development lab, stating he encourages his folks to “Fail fast” as it is only through rapid testing of ideas they can continue to maintain a leadership position in innovation.
This immediately reminded me of the TPS concept of frequent experimentation. At Toyota all employees are coached to observe processes and devise quick experiments to solve problems. They identify the problem, develop a hypothesis, prototype a change, predict the results and implement, then compare the actual results to their prediction. Any discrepancy between actual and predicted results offers another opportunity for improvement.
This should be pretty familiar to all of us now as DMAIC, as we practice through our A3 process. There is a direct line between the TPS system as trained at Toyota and A3 as we practice it. Our small, temporary A3 teams are encouraged to experiment with prototype solutions. Sometimes a mocked up solution appears more like and arts and crafts project rather than a manufacturing process improvement. But it is just this opportunity for the teams to independently analyze, design and implement that propels A3 projects to provide results faster and increase the rate of A3 changes.
Not every proposed solution is perfect the first time through. But the cycle of continuous, continuous improvement begins with that first proposal, accelerates from there and carries us into the future. So everyone who practices A3, Fail Faster!