One of my prize possessions is a paper weight given to me by the President of Toyota University. I value it because it helped to teach me the essence of the Toyota production system long before the name "lean" was coined and the world was filled with lean consultants. It also reaffirmed for me a very difficult lesson I learned from Dr. Clay Lafferty founder of a company called "Human Synergistics." Clay developed a diagnostic system for helping normal healthy human beings become more effective. He based his system on the research of a large number of Psychologists. I became interested in his methods and products when I was Director of Management Programs for GMI Engineering and Management Institute (the former General Motors Corporate College.)
In order to use or recommend Clay's products I had to submit to using them. In essence I had to see how my thinking stacked up against all of Clay's researchers. The results were not good and yet I considered myself "a normal healthy human being." I had a Master's Degree, a wonderful wife, two sons, a responsible job, etc. but Clay's Diagnostic showed someone whoose self worth was too tied to be liked by others and who spent way too much time trying to beat others rather than trying to be excellent. I had few real goals, and I did not pursue them with passion. Clay's diagnostics showed me how good thinking could lead to a much better life.
It turns out most successful people know how to set realistic goals. They do not trust their lives to luck, fate, chance or magic. Instead they understand cause and effect. They learn from their mistakes by analyzing what they do and the effect it causes. Successful human beings love what they do, and help others. If they aren't having fun they find someplace else where they can enjoy what they do. They coach and help others learn and grow.
This is in essence what Toyota also does. Plan, Do Check, Act is a system for basing decisions on cause and effect. It is also the heart of what some would call the scientific method. Decisions made this way tend to remove blame and defensiveness. Decisions are made on tested facts.
Toyota helps all employees learn how to set goals and test how the goals are met through a process called Hoshin Kanri. Hoshin is a systematic planning process where everyone knows the goals of the company. Everyone also has their departmental and individual goals. Unlike most western companies the goals are constantly tested so that resources or strategies can be modified if the goal is not being met.
Scanlon also helps everyone understand the goals and reality of their organizations through the Identity Principle. People have good thinking if they have information and are helped to understand their organization's goals.
Lean as practiced by Toyota and Scanlon share many of the same philosophical underpinnings. The Scanlon Leadership Network has developed a tool called Hoshin Quick Start to help organizations develop their own Hoshin system. If you are interested in learning more contact me.
Every day I continue to learn from Clay, Toyota and Scanlon. I am thankful for their teachings and for helping me to become a much more effective human being.
Questions to Ponder
1) How does your thinking help you?
2) How does your thinking get in the way of your success?
3) How does your organization help assopciates to think better?
Resources: Human Synergistics