Toyota Way Principle #13: Decide Slowly Through Consensus, Implement Rapidly

Posted on July 30, 2012 | in Change Management, Defects, Lean Wastes, New Ideas, Teamwork, Time Savings, Toyota Way | by

toyota way principle 13 consensus implement rapidly lean blitz consulting sports operations small business process

(This is part of a series of posts covering the 14 principles from The Toyota Way. Today we’re examining The Toyota Way principle 13.)

One of the risks of implementing changes or new ideas in processes is the failure to consider all options and the potential for an outcome not otherwise projected.

A lot of this risk is rooted in the inherent need to put a “quick fix” in place or simply move fast with solving a problem. Moving extremely quickly with identifying a problem and generating a solution option could lead to errors – maybe the idea works on paper but not in practice or there are other factors that were skipped over or ignored. Just like that, the problem isn’t fully solved and more time is now needed to undo the incorrect solution and put in place the proper solution.

You know the whole “haste makes waste” concept? This is a prime example.

That’s why such an emphasis needs to be placed on getting the solution right and thoroughly evaluating solution options as opposed to simply getting something in place fast. Principle #13 from The Toyota Way states:

“Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.”

This principle is comprised of two parts – evaluating all solutions options, then implementing quickly once the final decision has been made – so we’ll look at it in two parts.

First, full consensus is hard to achieve. What is important is the continuous gaining of consensus over time and evaluation.

The problem you’re looking to solve needs to be identified and defined. From there you must start looking at everything and everyone that this problem might touch and affect. These departments and individuals need to be part of the fact-finding group for understanding the impact of the problem and also as the source for potential solutions.

The collection of these potential solutions (or expectations of how any solutions would impact each individual’s role) should go into an analysis for identifying the solution that will provide the greatest benefit for the process overall while also minimizing any negative consequences on individuals or departments. Very few solutions will ever be perfect, so achieving full consensus is nearly impossible. Focus more on the exploration of potential problems and pitfalls instead of worrying about making everyone happy. Using the five-whys analysis or other root cause analysis tools will go a long way in identifying those issues.

It’s critical to get input from everywhere the process or problem touches because failing to do so means you might miss out on another problem that would rear its ugly head later down the line or miss out on a great solution. In addition, by leaving some folks and departments out of the decision you risk losing some goodwill and trust by implementing a solution that surprises them.

Once you’ve identified the solution that provides the greatest benefits at the most minimal of costs (negative impact, dollars, and goodwill), it’s time to put it in place quickly. If you’ve got (almost) everyone on board with the solution (almost) everyone believes to be the best one, why delay? The faster the right solution is implemented, the quicker reaping of the benefits.

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One Response to “Toyota Way Principle #13: Decide Slowly Through Consensus, Implement Rapidly”

  1. Pingback: “Best” Practices | Vlad Pasman's Blog

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