Few companies have been studied for their ability to efficiently manufacture a product as Toyota. Companies everywhere use the innovative techniques from Toyota today but when Toyota started utilizing the techniques, most companies had no idea what they were doing.
You can gain a better understanding of how to improve by studying how others improve. Therefore, it can be beneficial to look to Toyota for inspiration into how we can improve our own lives.
In Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System, authors Durward K. Sobek II and Art Smalley talk about the ways in which Toyota is constantly strive to be better.
They say, “So how did the Toyota system emerge? In simple terms, it emerged as Toyota’s people saw problems or opportunities, ‘solved’ the problems aggressively and systematically to find a better way to do things, and then rigorously verified that the better way was indeed better. If the remedy did indeed improve the system, the new way became the standard way to do the work; if not, problem solving and verification continue until the problem is satisfactorily addressed.”
How many of us wish we were better in some aspect of our lives? I believe most people have a desire to be different, be better. Unfortunately that desire doesn’t translate into striving to improve “aggressively and systematically”.
But what if we can chase improvement aggressively and systematically? What if we can strive to make improvements, then study the improvements and if they provide the benefit we hoped for then we standardize the new improvements so we do them all the time?
This doesn’t have to be any formal process improvement it could be very informal. In fact, in our personal life I feel it is more beneficial to adopt this way of going through life, rather than drudge through some formal plan to improve.
But I don’t see people doing this. I don’t see the equivalent of the Plan – Do – Check – Act in people’s personal life. Instead, it seems that we rely on wishing and hoping. When we do take action it is usually in an attempt to control something external so that something positive happens for us, rather than us doing the work.
Right now, what is something that you have wanted to change and improve? How can take a very small part of it and create a plan for change. Once you have a general idea of how you want to change, then take action. As you do, measure the effectiveness. If it helps, then make that the standard action you take.
Instead of this turning into a standard process like in a business, we will create a new habit. The habit will drive behavior without our conscious thought and effort. It will become automatic.
This is how we start to go after the life we desire aggressively and systematically. We keep working to improve and then standardize the new, better method. Do this over and over and suddenly we will find ourselves growing and improving, allowing us to become our most passionate and successful self. But the choice is yours and it is up to you to start improving or not.