Chapter 5 - How to think for great ideas

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How to think for great ideas


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person in an industry - every day - to come up with suggestions for improving everything: themselves, their job, their lunchroom, their office layout, their telephone answering habits and their products.
  Says Toyota Motor chairman Eiji Toyoda: "One of the features of the Japanese workers is that they use their brains as well as their hands. Our workers provide 1.5 million suggestions a year, and 95 per cent of them are put to practical use."15 And at Nissan Motors "any suggestion that saves at least 0.6 seconds - the time it takes a worker to stretch out his hand or walk half a step - is seriously considered by management."16 Matsushita, the giant Japanese electronics company, receives about 6.5 million ideas every year from its staff.17 And the big majority are put into operation quickly.
  It is beyond the scope of this book to cover the total secret of Japan's Total Quality Management and Kaizen movements. But to test, in part, the effectiveness of their method, try an introductory Kaizen on anything you're involved in. One excellent method is to use David Buffin's hexagon Think Kit. Staff or students are encouraged to fire in new ideas. The teacher or facilitator writes each on a colored hexagon and attaches the hexagons to a large magnetic board. The group then arranges the hexagons around various themes or activities, and agrees on the main priorities. These are then left on display as a continual spur to agreed action (see diagram opposite).
  For business we prefer to marry the two methods together: to look for the big Aha! idea for strategic planning (what is the really big breakthrough that will change the future of your company or industry?) and Kaizen (how can you involve all your staff in continuously striving to upgrade every aspect of that performance?). In oversimplified terms, many would describe Aha! as the key to American business success, and Kaizen as the Japanese secret weapon. Their "marriage" is The Third Way. And an excellent way to display them is on another David Buffin innovation, the arrowed action kit (see illustration next page): again a good permanent and colorful visible reminder of agreed goals and actions.
  Many universities, of course, would say they have always taught thinking as part of logic, psychology and philosophy. But most schools don't teach what Edward de Bono18 has termed lateral thinking: the ability to open-mindedly search for new ideas, look in new directions.
  Roger von Oech thinks even the terms logical and lateral thinking are


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