Building People Capability
The World is set for above-average GDP growth in 2022, on top of strong ongoing global growth in 2021. Such growth was seen back in the 1970s over a global GDP size of 25 trillion USD, whereas today the global GDP size is 85 trillion USD. Inflation is set to rise higher, due to demography and deglobalization. Aging populations and slower labor-supply growth is likely to result in higher wages and increased number of retirees per working persons. Countries, companies and institutions that don’t invest in people will fall behind. High attrition rates and the great resignation 2021 are just initial warnings. It is being responded with a range of countermeasures; raising wages, reinventing processes and investing in automation and digitization.
Higher productivity, new technologies, and higher education are shaping the global growth. India is uniquely positioned for a long term growth cycle. Demographic advantages, banks with enough money searching for good borrowers, lowest ever interest rates, higher liquidity, and younger talent pool are all positive for the country. What is going to be the biggest barrier to India's growth?
People Capability Building - the development of people's capability to identify problems and solve problems to work towards their purpose. What is stopping us from building people's capability to solve problems? Lack of process to find problems, solve problems and develop thinking problem solvers. Do you have such a process in your organization? Reflect upon it seriously, as not many are known to have it.
Toyota has developed organically a system to deal with people capability building through learning to learn. After practicing and maturing it for half a century, the model was published as the "Toyota Way 2001." The way to pursue the model is very well explained by John Y Shook in his book “Managing to Learn.” The book has revealed a deep thinking underlying the “A3 Management” at the heart of Toyota leadership. A3 Management helps managers and executives identify, frame, and act on problems and the challenges. John Shook calls it, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities." Can we learn from it? Yes! Can we copy it? No! Most have failed in their attempt to do so.
Finding the right problems is a skill. Michael Ballé, of Lean Institute France says, “finding problems requires developing an awareness of problems even in situations that look perfectly banal or usual. It’s as much about seeing what isn’t there as what is. Why are we waiting? Why do we need to do this all over again? Why are we not happy with what we’ve just done?”
Nate Furuta writes in, “Welcome Problems, Find Success – Creating Toyota Cultures Around the World” - “You and your organization must learn to find your problems and develop solutions that align with your vision.” He says further, “There is a misperception that everyone at Toyota “gets it,” that we walked into our roles, front-line assembly worker or vice president, and were automatically assimilated into the Toyota culture and able to grasp Toyota philosophies, concepts, tools, and techniques. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone within Toyota had to work to develop and sustain a problem-finding/kaizen mind, and it was management’s role to make that happen and provide the coaching, mentoring, motivation, and systems to further that development.”
Are the managers ready to take up their most important role and responsibility? Revisit your roles and responsibilities and figure it out for yourself.
What are the other major problems in problem solving? Jumping to conclusion and lack of developing innovative solution ideas.
We are all slaves to our habit of "Jumping to Conclusion." It happens naturally to all humans due to the predominance of “System-1 thinking,” rather than “System-2 thinking.” The phenomenon is well described by Noble Laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman in his book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” A3 Management by Toyota overcomes this problem of jumping to conclusion with its coaching processes and insisting more and more upon “Genchi Genbutsu” - getting one’s hands dirty and grappling with the issues, listening to people, challenging situations to better understand the facts from the place of work, treating people who do the work as experts- all these stops people from jumping to conclusions without facts.
Developing innovative solution ideas, risk free, and easy to implement is very important for great problem solving. Genchi Genbutsu floods us with qualitative data around the problem at hand. But the methods to analyze qualitative data lags far behind. Best method for analyzing qualitative data is KJ-Method, developed by Kawakita Jiro, Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient in 1985. He explains - “with masses of data spread about on my desk, I had been racking my brains to find some way to integrate them when I suddenly realized that depending on the spatial arrangement of the cards, you can see new meaning in them and find ways to systemize the data. That was the first realization that led to the creation of the KJ Method.”
The complexity in today’s world has far outstripped any ready-made theories or hypotheses, and a priori assumptions and wishful thinking are no good.
In a changing world, instead of judging the way forward we need to design the way forward. It becomes important to align the team thinking ensuring all team members look in the same direction, while the direction may change. It works much better to supplement A3 thinking with parallel thinking - term coined by Dr. Edward de Bono as a constructive alternative to approaches exemplified by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – which was essentially determined by analysis, pointing out what is wrong, judgement, argument, and to which box something belongs to. Parallel thinking is a further development on well-known “lateral thinking,” focusing more on explorations—looking for “what can be,” based on constructive thinking, creative thinking and designing the way forward.
We have developed A3 Thinking coupled with KJ-Method and Parallel Thinking. It is a very powerful and unique methodology for developing thinking problem solvers across your organization.
But the choice is yours, “It is not necessary to change. Using opportunities ahead is also not mandatory.”