In one of my most popular podcasts (Related Podcast and Transcription: A3 Problem Solving) of all time, Tracey Richardson talked about Problem Solving and A3s. However, I have always thought like most things, it is not about the tools and methods, it is about the people.
An excerpt from the podcast:
Joe Dager: How do you really get a work force engaged in problem-solving? I think about going out there to the line, do they really want to be engaged in it, or do they just want to go in there, get done with their job and go home?
Tracey Richardson: Well, I think there’s a combination of both, and I think a lot of it is leadership setting the example. If leadership doesn’t come down on the floor, and they stay in their office, so to speak, and there’s no interaction or engagement and those questions aren’t being asked on a daily basis, then, sure, I think you’re going to have more of a lackadaisical work force that does just want to do their eight-ten hours and go home. I think it starts with leadership setting the expectation very high that we do have standards. When we are below standards, “What’s the expectation of me, at that point?” The leaders have to ask the right questions. It’s also good if you visualize your problems in the workplace.
For me, in my experience at Toyota, we had the visual board. Some folks call them the scoreboards. We were always able to see where we are, in regards to the company standard: the expectation of where we should be. When we weren’t, we had things like, quality circles that allowed our member engagement at the floor level, to be able to get involved and make change.
That’s a way to engage the workforce: suggestion system. We do have kaizen events, or what we call, “Jishuken,” which is a problem-solving event. I think, it’s up to leadership to really set the example, and set those expectations high for that work force to have, when the manager comes down and they’re doing their ‘go?and?see’ on that daily basis, and sometimes hourly basis, in some ways, that the expectation is there to always, “Where am I, in regard to the standard?”
Ask those questions, because, as a leader in the organization, I was always asking questions of my team leaders and team members, “What’s happening, what’s going on, what should be? Is there any variation today?” It’s developing that problem awareness. If you have that engagement, and that buy?in and that conversation, then those folks are going to have a tendency to be more engage in problem-solving. That empowerment can make a difference.
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