|Doubting Thomas, who needs to see with his own two eyes|
Invariably, when a company brings me in to build a spirit of kaizen, sooner rather than later, I meet at least one Doubting Thomas. Sometimes a few Thomases. This is how the conversation goes:
Thomas: "Don't get me wrong, I really like what you're doing. But, no offense, we've tried all that before. TQM, 6 sigma, Lean, Mapping, 5S, TQM, Just-In -Time, you name it, we've done it. Back in 93 I was even certified."
(Translation: You can save both of us time and aggravation by driving your lean butt back to the airport. Your stuff won't fly here).
Me: "This is different, blah, blah, blah. It worked in my own business and enabled us to increase sales from $18M to $32M without adding any more people, blah, blah, blah. I can also show you how it has worked in a dozen or so of my clients, maybe we can arrange a site visit so you can see for yourself, blah, blah, blah."
Nothing can be said. Thomas has heard it all before. Power Points ad nauseum, Gemba Walks, Lean committees, he's lived through it all. There is only one way to flip Thomas. He needs to see a huge change in management. Management needs to get their hands dirty.
One of the many benefits of introducing A3 to build a spirit and culture of continuous improvement is that it makes it really easy for managers to get their hands dirty. The A3 board is very visible and it spells out the active improvements, who is leading it, when it started and who is coaching (getting hands dirty). Any manager who wants to get their hands dirty can simply go to the board, pick an a active improvement and go see the person leading it, and ask, humbly, "will you show me what you're doing?" Managers can also show up at the weekly closings to demonstrate that lean is important and express gratitude and sometimes amazement at how smart people really are.
In my own business, 70 people would lead 8 or 900 improvements each year. Lots of opportunities to convince Thomas that things are different and that they could trust management to follow through.
The good news is that once I flip Thomas, he becomes my biggest proponent! Before I knew better, I thought of my doubters as my foe. In reality, Thomas is my best friend!