We have covered the way to set a Vision and move towards it. Hence, as we have discussed setting a Target Condition, it is now high time to start moving towards it. That’s where the real challenge begins.
First things first, while formulating a plan, we need to acknowledge that the path is unclear. We have the Condition we want to reach, but not the tactics of how we want to make it happen. As we move forward, there will obviously be hindrances and externalities on the way, and that’s pretty normal. So, we have to adjust accordingly and continue moving by focusing on the Next Step only.
After each step, we need to analyze the situation, learn, adjust if need be, and focus on the next step.
In other words, “you have defined where you want to go, but the way ahead between here and there is dark. You are holding a flashlight, but it only shines so far into the darkness. To see further and spot obstacles hidden in the darkness, you have to take a step forward.” (Mike Rother)
As our path is unclear, we need to act like scientists and perform in an experimentation mode. We should learn by experimenting, and that’s where the popular method of Plan-Do-Check-Act helps.
Plan: plan what needs to be done and how the process should be by making a hypothesis:
- What is the core problem we need to solve?
- What resources do we need?
- What resources do we have?
- What is the best solution for fixing the problem with the available resources?
- In what conditions will the plan be considered successful? What are the goals?
Do: take action. Make the established plan happen. Test the hypothesis. Make small steps and check the effects of each step.
Check: audit the plan and compare the actual results with the expected ones;
Act: implement. If everything worked according to plan or the results are satisfactory, you can start implementing what works and create a standard.
What does Gemba at the center mean?
It is one of the most well-known concepts across the industries of Japan, I believe. It means “go and see” the results for yourself to make sure that the papers' assumptions and ideas are consistent with the fact.
Principles of PDCA
Things we need to bear in mind:
- Adaptive and improving systems by their nature involve experimentation. We cannot propose a perfect solution and wait for its implementation; instead, we need to learn and improve continuously;
- Hypothesis gives value only when tested, not when it is infinitely discussed. We should start experimenting one thing at a time steadily rather than spending our time discussing;
- Be ready for unintended consequences or failures. Experiments mostly end up with failures from which we gain knowledge and experience;
- Failures are more beneficial than successes as we learn not when there is a problem. Problems show us the way forward.
Here, it must be emphasized that we hate failures and upper management hates failures and problems. All we see are endless reports and presentations about the Place With No Problems, or a Utopian world that has never existed.
Failing to acknowledge that there is a problem is by itself a huge problem.
When you have something to say, silence is a lie.
— Jordan B. Peterson, “12 Rules for Life”
We need a paradigm shift…