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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Really? More Stabbing Around for Solutions?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Question: What is Ringi? Should that practice be adopted by Lean thinkers?

The process of PDCA Thinking and Acting suggests we should experiment our way to a target condition. That is, when a step doesn’t work as intended (which happens all the time) you learn something valuable from that prediction error and you set up the next experiment based on what you just learned. In this way you create a chain of PDCA cycles toward the target condition; learning along the way and adjusting based on what you’re learning.

What PDCA Thinking and Acting doesn’t say is that when something didn’t work as predicted you stab around for another step to try in the hope that it will work. That’s unscientific and not a good way to meet challenging objectives.

Ringi? Do we really want to go back to Toyota/Japan to copy another technique we see there, in the hopes that it will help us achieve strategically-aligned Lean continuous improvement? There’s a real issue behind Ringi: decisions have system-wide effects and there’s often a need for consensus. If that happens to be your problem (obstacle) right now then stay home and work on it with PDCA Thinking and Acting. Someone else’s situation and solutions are not going to be your situation and solutions. And if that’s not your obstacle right now then don’t worry about it.

One lesson that sprang from the Toyota Kata research is that we shouldn’t spend too much time benchmarking what others are doing. You yourself are the benchmark:

Another TK lesson was that a team should focus and work on those obstacles it needs to work on to reach its next target condition.

The ability of your organization to be competitive and survive lies not so much in solutions themselves, but in the capability of the people in your organization to understand a situation and develop solutions on the way to a target condition. Hey, what Lean legacy do we want?  LEAN = 20 years of ideology unhindered by progress, or LEAN = Thinking that helped us evolve and beat the competition.

Take a look at this SlideShare if you like what I’m saying:

www.slideshare.net/mike734/the-case-for-pdca

Mike

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