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Lean Decision Steps

Sanat Sankrityayan 2011-07-19

1. Find out for yourself what is really going on, Genchi Genbutsu

 2. Understand underlying casues that explain surface appearances

 3. Broadly consider alternative solutions and develop a detailed rationale for the preferred solution

4. Build consensus with the team; including employees and outside partners

5. Use very efficient communication media to do step 1 through 4, preferably one side of one sheet of paper, visual, A3, team board, cell board etc.

These steps are commonly quoted at many places. However, it need to be illustrated in terms of importance of these. Here I take an attempt…..

1. Historical Data can be misleading. Primary Data – interpretation is where the devil lies. Moreover, Data creates opinions. Opinions are not facts. Unless the Gemba is felt and experienced, the data should not be taken up for analysis.

Moreover, there are many aspects of the problem/matter that may escape the data-net. Those can only be captured through direct visit to the Gemba and see the Gembutsu for self. This is an application of the most important Gemba Principle – Go and ask the Process.

  2. Tip of the Iceberg – got the Titanic. On the Face or Surface of the issue, the problems can be cured instantly through the “White Knight” method, where the        problem is creatively stated in order to get through to the solution. But this will be like curing the symptoms and not the disease. Diagnosis and Tests give out  an indication. Unless the root is eliminated, the creepy capers will keep coming back. (sarcasm) If you want to keep earning individual rewards and be known  as a Problem Solver, then leave out the root and keep curing the symptoms only. However, this approach is detrimental in the long run, both individual and  organizational loss. Why Why Analysis is a pretty simple and effective tool. Ishikawa is another handy one. Pareto can be applied anywhere. Digging deep is the  key.

3. The problem cannot be solved from the same level of thinking that created it. It is but, a question of Paradigm. Zoom in and Zoom out are the simplest methods of doing it. Moreover, all actions are linked to others in a direct or indirect manner. It could be Cascading effect, Snowball effect or simple Secondary Cause-Effect. Moreover, the direct solution may not be possible to implement every time within the stipulated time and resource frame. However, alternatives/substitutes can always be explored and must be brought out even if the solution is direct and simple to implement. The solution then must be verified/validated to ensure that the correct measurements are in place and one is not fooled in by the urge to resolve soon.

4. Sustenance is driven by Involvement. Decision Ownership (what I call DO) must be spread or extended to all the stakeholders, if possible even the tertiary ones. Once the participation is established, the coordination and implementation becomes smooth. Reviews/Audits and Systematic Deployment are then just a cake walk. Consensus is essential as the effects of the solution may ripple across to many other inadvertently.

5. Transparency is absolutely vital. Letting the people know the change in time, will lead to a successful transformation and simultaneous integration of the change in the regular daily routine of the individuals. Communicate to all and sundry. The change must be visibly demonstrated too. Nearly 40 % of the problems can be resolved through timely and adequate communication. Let the feedback arrive. DO not block out the reactions. Understand them and assess. It could bring out something that might have skipped your eyes, owing to the blind spots of paradigm. 

- Sanat Sankrityayan

Lean Kaizen Practitioner

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