In continuation of these blog postings (From the Archives of a Common Sensei), volume 25 discusses how we approached Problem Solving during those early days (early 1990’s) while developing Toyota Industrial Equipment. The documents included here are pre-computerization and clearly demonstrate we didn’t need everything computerized – especially problem solving!  The attached documents are in their rough condition but, are actual examples of a systematic method used for problem resolution, particularly in the following areas:

On the document entitled Procedure for Problem Solving, we have provided the procedural flow guideline for problem solving, especially for Managers and other Leaders (of course in conjunction with all those affected).  On the slide marked Problem Solving Activity, we provide a look at the process used to evaluate and resolve problems and advance opportunities.

Additional documents included provide examples of the Kaizen Activity Report (before and after changes), the Kaizen Report Format, The Bi-Weekly Report of Activity, and the Implementation Schedule for Policy Management.  The Implementation Schedule for Policy Management is used to track the various tasks against established policies of Cost, Quality, Delivery, Safety, and Morale. Additionally, it keeps track of the method, target dates, person/in charge, and lays it out in a schedule for tracking simplification.

The documents in this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei we feel it is essential to stress that although the documents included here are not the prettiest, they are valued examples that can show you the basics of value-added problem solving (resolution).  Standardized use of these documents (or similar) will aid in the development of a true problem solving (love those opportunities) culture.  As your organization matures, it will become stronger because of standardized problem solving as described here.

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In Volume 23 of From the Archives of a Common Sensei, we discussed “The Intention of Developing a Planning Process”. In this volume we will use archived documents from previous Toyota experience in the early 1990’s to convey how the management planning process was structured. Today this planning process is commonly referred to as Hoshin Kanri. Because of resistance to using Japanese terms at that point, it was simply referred to as The Management Planning Process or Focus Alignment. The resistance was not only from the Americans but also from the Japanese staff who were supporting the startup efforts. They were doing everything they could to avoid alienating people they needed to work with and, to create an environment (culture) of inclusiveness.

Please keep in mind that this is being shared, not with the intent to say that the process is the only way to proceed, but to provide you with an actual process of how it worked for us in those early Toyota efforts at TIEM. There is little doubt that the structured management planning process included in this article is adaptable and workable in your organization! As illustrated in the attached documents, the “Framework of the Company Plan” provides details regarding the basic frame, its’ content and basic responsibilities. The second slide attachment illustrates the development of the Company Plan. This attachment lays out the flow process of establishing the plan and associated responsible person. Also included in this attachment you will see the cascading of not only the establishment of the plan, but also the development of the plan and associated people (level) responsible. At the bottom of the second attached page, you can see an explanation of required documents. The third attached page gets more involved in the details of The Management Plan Diagnosis by the President. In this section we get involved with the frequency of plan diagnosis, responsibilities, and expected outcomes. We follow this on page five with a discussion of more detail including the Performing, Checking, and Action of the plan. The final two attached pages (5&6) display examples of how to track action associated with your Management Plan at every level. I particularly like the last page that demonstrates an example of “The reason why the Manager selects each subject” as conveyed using data graphics (charts).

 I just finished the book entitled Learning to LEAD, Leading to LEARNby Katie Anderson with Isao Yoshino. This book brings home the realities of how various Toyota businesses struggled in the early days in the United States with development and deployment of a formalized management process. In fact, I was amazed how parallel Yoshino-San’s experience was to my own experiences during the same time. The reason this is relevant is that he was trying to create a culture that included management planning and execution within NUMMI and the Toyota Marine Company, while I was doing the same thing at Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM). These concepts of organizational wide inclusiveness were not common to most organizations at that time. The other thing that caught my attention was that Yoshino-San was experiencing many of the same problems as he was coming at his efforts from a Japanese viewpoint, and I was coming at remarkably similar efforts from an American viewpoint. The similarities are EXTRAORDINARY! The differing factors may have included the highly selective hiring practices we used in the initial phases of the TIEM startup, including hiring associates who had little or no preconceived ideas of how a manufacturing facility operated. Another factor that may have contributed to a feeling of inclusiveness at TIEM could have included a sharing of leadership bonuses (small as they were) with all associates, or it may have been the inclusion of associate ideas as we all tried to improve our processes and the new engineering designs, or perhaps it was the use of “Skip Level Meetings” to shorten the communication of important dialogue. These actions were all elements that demonstrated open mindedness and inclusion!

The feeling of Inclusion is paramount as your Management Planning Process takes shape and rolls out.

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