Therefore, the ability of each collaborator to effectively solve problems is essential to achieve an innovative system that meets the expectations of our customers. Solving a problem effectively means digging to its root cause and establishing systemsized countermeasures against those causes.
Identifying the root cause of problems involves two advantages: on the one hand, we can improve our systems to prevent recurrences in the long term, and on the other hand, we develop a deep understanding of our business processes. This profound knowledge of the business enables us to engage employees in value creation tasks and opportunities, creating a culture that is oriented towards always improving performance.
Once opportunities are visible, the ability to respond to them with agility and flexibility must be developed. The speed and effectiveness of responding to these opportunities are the best indicators for measuring the health of an organization and is one of the aspects in which the creative Agile enterprise shines brighter.
At Toyota, this is perfectly realized by their Andon Cord. On assembly lines around the world, team members are empowered to pull the Andon Cord every time they discover a deviation in the standards that define total customer satisfaction.
Whenever that happens, leader and collaborator work together to solve the problem before the assembly line comes to a standstill. We are talking about seconds, when creativity rises between the tension of delivering total quality and complying with Just-in-Time planning.
Each Andon Cord also has an internal counter that records the number of problems and minutes spent dealing with each issue. This information, along with direct knowledge of the facts, continuously feeds circles of improvement where team members and their leaders collaborate intensely toward effective problem solving based on the organizational capability.
Based on the pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people,
Through systematic problem solving, team members develop the skills and confidence to continuously deliver innovation relevant to the company’s customers, which makes it a creative Agile enterprise.
As Ed Catmull, co-founder Pixar, stated,
“I find that what Toyota does is unique. The company uses the assembly line as a way to create and improve the product. And it also empowers all its teams in problem solving. This has turned the company into a creative space.”
This environment of creativity produces a continuous flow of small daily improvements implemented by each Toyota employee. And, this makes Toyota a model company that achieves 100% total quality in its processes with maximum flexibility to meet demand through the constant realignment of its production lines.
For building this creative environment that distinguishes High Performance Oganizations like Toyota, companies need to grow cultures that nurture self-confidence, mutual trust and a passion for excellence.
Passion for excellence unleashes talent, critical thinking and ability to always create a better way.