Tag Archive | Daniel T. Jones

Root cause analysis Rule #3

zen-moment

This week I’ve seen a problem that happens (sadly) all the time.

Imagine a company / department / team that has a problem (e. g. equipment failure that could impact the product quality). People who work at the work center and their immediate supervision meet at the gemba and agree how to investigate the problem. Some ask their managers if it is ok if they investigate, management says “of course, we believe in people, you are the experts, we trust you”. The team thinks, develops ideas, tests, learns together (e.g. “what are the equipment failure modes?”, “how could we detect them?”, “how can we know is this error has happened?”, “how can we prove our hypothesis right or wrong?”, “how can we evaluate if the product is still good?”). They discover the root cause of the problem and develop an action plan to avoid it in the future.

They call a meeting to share their learning with the site directors and then….. shit happened. I’ll list the sad list of problems:

  • Directors came to the meeting with their own root cause analysis (of course, none of them had been at the work center or had spoken with any of the workers). It was a nice PowerPoint Ishikawa.
  • Directors developed their own action plan. It was a wonderful MS Project file.
  • The first time a team member talked at the meeting was 15 minutes after the meeting had started.
  • The team’s improvement ideas were ignored. No director asked about their analysis or improvement action plan. The team had spent more than 20 hours in 2 days doing their investigation.
  • Most of the meeting time was used by management to show why their ideas were great. 2 team members tried to talk and make a point about their ideas, but they were ignored. The team stayed in silence the rest of the meeting.
  • One director finished the meeting asking: “But, what do you think about this?” Another one said she was very happy to see the team working together. Nobody else said a word.
  • When leaving the meeting, one worker said “I’ve learned something. Never think by yourself.”

Meeting minutes:

always right 2

Director actions were implemented and the problem happened again 3 days afterwards.

This story is an example of one of the most important questions about problem solving: “what is the role of management in problem solving?” The tricky part is to see the difference between “supporting” and “doing somebody else’s job”. Remember rule #3: Problems must be solved by those who do the job. How can we do this? Let’s listen to the experts:

Management must move from “telling what to do” to “asking questions that provoke the right thinking”. Telling people what to do takes away responsibility from the person. Management main goals are a) find and frame problems by observing (at the gemba) front line learning and b) challenge, enable and remove obstacles for front line while they are solving problems.

Daniel T. Jones, Lean Conference 2014

The most important question from the management side is “What are your problems?” Management work is not to solve problems by themselves, but to develop problem solvers. Otherwise, you’ll become a manager like this:

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A Daniel T. Jones conference

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Last Friday I had the pleasure to attend a Daniel T. Jones conference. His speech was full of thoughts and insights about lean, based on his many years of experience. Some remarkable ideas he shared with the audience are:

Lean as a management system for delivering accelerated performance. This means that Lean is a dynamic system and not simply “a better way of using resources” (static). The 2 main differences with classic management (Taylorism) are a) Lean involves front line in improving their work and b) Lean promotes learning through repeated practice in solving problems

Classic management rules: “command and control” + “experts own improvement” + “compliance”. Lean transformation means: Focus (“From managing by data to closing vital few gaps”) + Build cooperation (“From silo politics to focus on delivering value”) + Building capabilities (“The organization supports front line learning”).

Learning practice a) begins with knowledge of the work creating a standard (TWI), b) deepens using PDCA /Lean tools and c) uses A3 to solve business problems

Management must move from “telling what to do” to “asking questions that provoke the right thinking”. Telling people what to do takes away responsibility from the person. Management main goals are a) find and frame problems by observing (at the gemba) front line learning and b) challenge, enable and remove obstacles for front line while they are solving problems.

And his final summary!

  • Expert roll-out does not work. It is not sustainable.
  • Lean is not a Copy-and-Paste exercise
  • Manager commitment is basic. The classic expectation “You are my lean expert, solve my problems for me” is an error.
  • Lean means everyday work. From everybody.
  • “Accelerated incremental learning” beats “big projects”
  • Management most important question is not “How can I help you?”. It is “What are your problems?”

Enjoy!