I went to a lecture tonight given by Dr. Abbot McGinnis, a core member of the Lean Systems Program at the University of Kentucky(UK). He presented on UK’s version of lean which he reports, “…is benchmarking Toyota…” UK calls the system True Lean. Dr. McGinnis’ lecture was fascinating and paralleled what we have been teaching and coaching for years. One point of departure I noted and followed up on with Dr. McGinnis was the Eight Step Problem Solving pattern. Specifically, I asked if Toyota was still using Problem Solving I and Problem Solving II. The latter is the eight-step process, and as far as I can tell. Dr. McGinnis had never heard of Problem Solving I.
In fact, he rejected the notion because having two types of problem-solving violates the principle of standardization. “One voice” was the watchword he invoked. But, you have to wonder, why would Toyota have Problem Solving I and II in the beginning.
As I was reflecting on the conversation, I wondered if we haven’t once again fallen into the trap of imitating Toyota’s current state instead of learning how Toyota approached transforming a culture. The transformation problem that we face almost daily is not what the standard process for problem solving should be, but rather, what is an individual’s attitude toward problems in general. I agree that keeping it straightforward and standard is essential. How would you break that thinking pattern in your organization? In other words, how would you get folks thinking that problems are positive?