I recently read an article about the 5i method for problem solving that is simpler than the standard A3 & yet will be effective for many problems faced by many organisations.
What I liked about it most was that it had been created, period. There have been many discussions over the years regarding the tools of lean and how we should focus on the culture, not the tools. I wholeheartedly agree, but we still need tools.
I also had a short exchange with another author the other day regarding his support of tools & my admonishment of them. He quickly corrected me – It is not the tools that are wrong, but the use there-of. The people who focus solely on them & those of course who have the kit they learned years or even decades ago and use nothing else, are the focus of my frustrations.
What is my point in all of this? The tools that Toyota uses were developed over time to solve specific problems inherent in their operation. They may be appropriate for other organisations, or they may not. Our job as consultants, as Lean leaders is to be wise with tool selection & where necessary, be open to new tools & techniques, not be stuck with what we know, to be open to learning & creating new knowledge.
I left Toyota over a decade ago, I’m sure they still use all of the tools they did when I worked there, but they have also created/developed more. They are not sticking with what they have learned over the last 6 or 7 decades & thinking it’s good enough, they too are still learning, growing & developing more or better tools for improving their performance. We all should be!
Anyone working in the continuous improvement space will be familiar with the 6 most dangerous words in business – we’ve always done it that way – the same needs to apply to us – we need to be learning & finding new ways to do what we do. Toyota continues to evolve, so should we!