By Jon Miller | Post Date: August 28, 2007 12:31 PM | Comments: 1
When people say to me "We don't need no more stinkin' Japanese words in our Lean vocabulary," I don't argue. Most of us aren't using all of the ones we've got anyway. Why acquire knowledge you don't intend to use for good?
But I will humbly submit that there is one more that should be added to your list, even at the expense of bumping one other out of your Lean vocabulary list (kamishibai is a candidate for removal). The word is tatakidai (叩き台). Tatakidai literally means "beating board" or chopping block.
This is quite different from the English expression "to put one's head on the chopping block" which implies taking a courageous or controversial position that opens you to criticism. On the contrary, using a tatakidai is a safe way to present an plan with the goal of building consensus for the idea.
The tatakidai may have come from the practice of the Japanese "banana bargain sale performance" (バナナの叩き売り) in which the seller / performer would beat the tatakidai rhythmically while entertaining the passers by. One way or another, whether the bananas were damaged or a bit overripe, the bananas were sold. The important thing is that people stop to watch, and many of them buy. Nobody says "Those bananas are too ripe! You shouldn't sell them!" The banana seller drums his tatakidai until a price is agreed. The banana seller understands that management is performance art.
In business use a tatakidai is a springboard for discussion, an opening position, a draft proposal, if you will. A tatakidai is starting point for bringing about change. The Japanese have a word called nemawashi, coming from the idea of preparing the soil for transplanting a tree from one area to another, so that it will live. Nemawashi in business is preparing people's minds to accept an idea. It is consensus building.
Working within the Toyota Production System or managing by the Toyota way, almost any idea would be considered a tatakidai since decisions are made slowly through consensus, rather than rapidly and top down. Practically we can use value stream maps as tatakidai, or starting points for discussion about what we need to change about our processes. The sketch of the material and information flow should build understanding and agreement on what the problem is.
The A3 report, the one page document that is named after the paper size, is another great tatakidai. We use it to enlist the help of stakeholders and others knowledgeable in the issue to grasp the situation correctly and describe the problem. Scientist, engineer, inventor and General Motors "boss" Charles Kettering said:
“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.”
A problem statement that has been beaten up on a tatakidai has a much greater chance of success. Even if not everyone agrees completely with every detail of the plan, reasonable people will go along with it when they have had their say in developing the idea from tatakidai to implementation plan.
For something as important as converting to a pull system, implementing Job Instruction or learning and practicing Lean, don't put your head on the chopping block and risk a good thing being denied. Instead, pull out your tatakidai and let everyone beat on it until consensus is achieved so that action can be rapid and smooth. If you don't like the word, make up your own. It's only a tatakidai. The idea behind it is what is important.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.