Thinking scientifically about process, philosophy, problem solving and yes, people too! | Lean Frontiers

Thinking scientifically about process, philosophy, problem solving and yes, people too!

Through practicing Scientific Thinking and the reviewing the Toyota Way, we propose that the Problem Solving, Philosophy and Process quadrants are very dependent upon the People quadrant. Thus our ‘Scientific Thinking’ with respect to People (as per the model) will heavily influence our success in getting to a future desired state, philosophically thinking long term, and getting value to flow to the customer.

Why do we hypothesize this?

  • It is the thought patterns of the People that actually solves problems.
  • Long term systems thinking of the People develops philosophy.
  • It is a constant struggle of the People in developing flow to the customer in processes.

These things are abstractions created in the human mind, and do not exist without People.

It’s noteworthy to see that Jeffrey Liker (author of the Toyota Way) has added Scientific Thinking to the centre of his 4P model. As the author states on page 8, ‘The biggest change in the Toyota Way model in this second edition is placing Scientific Thinking in the center.’ The model is now represented as pieces of a puzzle, also very apt.

Let’s assume for now that the People quadrant is paramount. It is represented by the actions ‘Respect, challenge and grow’. Nobody would argue the importance of these three actions with respect to People. The question is how will these be accomplished? What can I do that has a solid foundation for respecting, challenging and growing People that brings value to the People and to the business?

Do we already have a scientific practice pattern at our disposal for this? Yes we do. It is a 4-step method that I like to call ‘PDCA for People’ and will be recognizable to many:

(Determine your objective.)

1. Get the facts.

2. Weigh and decide.

3. Take action.

4. Follow up.

So what do you think? Perhaps this scientific practice pattern fits well into Jeff’s 4P model with Scientific Thinking in the centre? It would seem so. Further, although there is a tendency for this pattern to be seen as a negative ‘problem handling’ tool, it can equally be used positively. That depends on your inclination to be proactive in its use and to size up problems well before they become (big) problems. The thinking patterns is still the same – scientific.

Join Mark Rosenthal and I on August 31 as we speak further on our hypothesis – please click here to register.

Oscar Roche                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 The Toyota Way, McGraw Hill, 2nd Ed, 2020        

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