By Jon Miller | Post Date: November 15, 2007 12:15 PM | Comments: 3
Too many organizations today have no effective, simple and formalized method of developing front-line leaders. The typical new supervisor or manager is lucky to be given instruction in how their job is done properly, and why. Most often the instruction stops at what to do.
And many companies don't even get the "what" quite right. What is the role of front line supervision in a Lean organization? At Toyota the job of the shop floor leader seems to make sure standard work is being maintained to meet safety, quality, delivery and cost targets, and to lead problem solving when this is not happening.
The one-page report called the A3 is the primary problem solving document. It is not a report to summarize the action after the fact and file it away, but almost like a chalk board where the student must do the math over and over again until the teacher is satisfied that they understand how to solve a particular problem. At Toyota, I am told, it can take months to work through a single A3 problem solving document to the satisfaction of the manager who is coaching a developing shop floor leader.
The three key competencies that are taught to people through this A3 problem solving are:
1. Problem definition. There are really three different skills that make up this competency: finding the problem, developing proper problem statements and building consensus on the issue.
2. Root cause analysis. The two important habits here are getting the facts on the gemba through what is called "genchi genbutsu" and conducting root cause analysis based on the 5 why process.
3. Kaizen. This means making a plan to test various countermeasures, trying it out repeatedly to eliminate ideas that don't work, and standardizing to the most practical countermeasure in terms of quality, safety, cost and speed.
Of course there are other skills and problem solving competencies needed for a shop floor or front line leader such as summarizing results and planning for future action based on what was learned. There are also a myriad of other tasks needed for management and supervision. Toyota may have processes for teaching people the skills needed for other such supervisory admin or HR work, but the use of A3 problem solving as a people development process is pretty brilliant.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.