Lean thinking is a journey of learning. I believe that we learn best when we learn from each other. The KaiZone Community Outreach is a monthly series designed to promote interesting, thoughtful and entertaining discussion on a wide variety of Lean-related topics. By contributing to the discussion, you help us all to move forward on our personal Lean journeys, one comment at a time. That’s The KaiZone Way.
This month’s Community Outreach topic comes to us from one of the most dynamic and passionate Lean thinkers you’ll find, Paul Akers via his blog at 2SecondLean.com. Do check out Paul’s site, which contains a ton of great videos focused on what really matters in a Lean organization . . . developing the problem solving skills of the people that do and manage the work. If you can spare the time, I highly recommend the video “Kaizen – FastCap Style” to demonstrate how small, rapid improvements can transform a process.
Recently, one of the videos posted on Paul’s blog set off quite a debate between a few of my colleagues and me. The video was contributed by Phillip Cohen from Cohen Architectural Woodworking to provide an example of how their organizations has created a culture of problem solving. Their motto is, “If you see something that bugs you, fix it!” and in the video below the problem that they are trying to fix is the factory soda machine.
Amongst my colleagues, there were three separate opinions voiced in response to that very question
- One view held that it was indeed an issue that was well solved. The actions were taken by those people who were directly affected, and they were able to develop a quick, simple, low-cost answer to the problem.
- A second opinion held that the video was an example of poor problem solving. The eventual “solution” did not address the underlying cause of the problem, that the machine was not accepting the dollar bills; the problem solving efforts should have been focused on fixing the machine itself. Exchanging bills for change only adds additional waste, steps and complexity to the process.
- A third opinion provided a different perspective. The debate was pointless because the wrong question was being considered. Whether it is a good or bad example of problem solving is irrelevant. It is the mindset of the people that matters most. By following through on their motto, they are demonstrating behavior consistent with a Lean culture, which is of primary importance.
Now, it’s your turn to help settle the debate! Do you give kudos to the practical problem solving? Or, does the new system actually create more waste? Or, are the cultural implications what’s really important?
There are several ways that you can get involved in the discussion.
- Simply post your perspectives in the comments section at the bottom of the post.
- Share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #leansoda
- Provide your comments anonymously by emailing them to joel@thekaizone, and I will post them to the comments section below.
Your feedback is much appreciated and helps us all to learn. Be sure to check back often throughout the month to keep up with the discussion. Either bookmark the page, or use the dropdown menu on the right side of the post and select the “Community Outreach” category to navigate back to the post. We look forward to hearing from you!