I read an article the other day about standardised work and one today regarding A3’s. The first one had a phrase that reverberated with me; “a countermeasure in search of a problem, instead of the other way around”. The second emphasises a similar point on A3’s. I have seen this so many times; I’m guessing most of us have.
Why does this happen? It is usually a result of 1 of 2 reasons. The first is the leadership of the organisation wants the “tool”, be it standardised work, 5S, etc., because they had heard about it and thought it sounded good. Sometimes this isn’t terrible, if it is actually solving a problem that exists, but often this is not the case. Or worse, it is trying to solve a problem that a different solution would be better for, or in the case of the A3 – a different problem solving technique might be more suited. Quite often it is the lack of leadership that is the issue, not the lack of a tool or a pre-defined solution.
The other reason this happens, is that consultants, and yes, I have been guilty of this from time to time, suggest/recommend it because it is part of their “toolkit” and therefore they want to use it. This is a great example of the Law of the Instrument popularised by Maslow (yes, the same guy who developed the hierarchy of needs) in his 1966 work “The Psychology of Science”. In more familiar terms – “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail“.
Too many of us are running around with hammers, looking for nails. We’ve become so specialised that we forget that there are other solutions to the problems businesses face. Ours may work, but it may not be the best for the given situation.
The next time you are considering deploying your hammer – consider whether there is another tool available for the job. You may not be familiar with it, you may need to do some research & training, but if it’s a better fit for the problem, it is probably worth the effort.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/27631936@N05/6936657289″>Hammer and nails</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>