Scott recently asked:
Ron, you mention “thinking production system” instead of Toyota. How do you learn to “think” better? What’s your recommendation for that? I agree with your premise but in my experience, learning to think better is not trivial.
In order to begin the conversation, I will offer my thoughts on how we, as business leaders, might transform our organizations into thinking institutions.
1. Ask Lots of Questions
There is a reason Socrates gave so few answers… he was too busy asking questions! But there is tremendous wisdom in following the so-called Socratic method.
You see, when someone asks you a question they often have an answer already in mind. All they are doing, in many cases, by asking you is seeking validation.
So, the next time someone asks you a question a simple, yet powerful, reply may be, “What do you think?”
2. Genchi Genbutsu
The words genchi genbutsu literally mean to go and see at the actual place. In other words, when there is a quality problem in the assembly cell don’t stand in a conference room to talk about it. Go to the assembly cell and see the problem first hand.
3. Stand in the Circle
The story goes that Taiichi Ohno, one of the chief architects of the Toyota Production System, used to take new managers to the production line. Once there, Ohno would take a piece of chalk and draw a circle on the ground. He’d then ask the new manager to stand in the circle for a pre-determined length of time (i.e. several hours) and document opportunities for improvement.
We too should go to the gemba (place the work is done) and stand in the circle from time to time. You may be amazed what you see (and think).
4. Ask why, a lot
If you see a problem start asking why… you may identify the root cause of the issue straight away.
Then, when you think you may have come to the root cause implement a counter-measure and see what happens. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, adjust/act. You know, PDCA.
5. Read, a lot
If you don’t like to read… well buy some audio books! But in order to think we also have to learn. And the fact you are reading this sentence is evidence you are probably in good shape with this point.
So your challenge is to get others in your organization reading as well. The easiest way? Give them a book and ask them to read it or send them a link to this post… with close to 300 articles and over 1000 comments there is plenty to read here.
Let’s hear from you
Over the past few months you, the fine readers of LSS Academy, have blown me away with your excellent comments and feedback.
So, what do you think? I just bet you have some excellent ideas on how to go about developing a thinking organization. Pray tell.
Subscribe to LSS Academy