If Toyota Ran a Game Store

If Toyota Ran a Game Store

May 9, 2016 | 2 min to read

Having problems is good. Having no problems—that's a problem.

According to former Toyota Vice President Taiichi Ohno, today's problems are tomorrow's progress. Every obstacle represents an opportunity to move forward, while the absence of obstacles can be a sign of inertia.

The trick is going beneath the surface to identify the true cause.

It's harder than it sounds, but it turns out you mastered a potent technique right around the time you mastered speech.

How to Fix a Robot

In the the 1950s, Ohno developed a childlike problem-solving method called the "5 Whys."

When confronted with murky problems, Ohno directed his staff to ask themselves "why" five times in order to identify the root cause. It's a crucial tenet of the Toyota Production System, a strategy that prevents error recursion by dissecting cause-effect relationships.

It may seem simplistic at first, but asking questions has helped Toyota maintain its reputation for innovation and reliability for over sixty years.

It works like this:

How to Fix a Robot, (According to Toyota)

Problem: The robot stopped in the middle of welding.

"Why did the robot stop?"
The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.

"Why is the circuit overloaded?"
There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.

"Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?"
The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.

"Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?"
The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.

"Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?"
Because there is no filter on the pump.

Solution: Add a filter to the pump.

The "5 Whys" method has become ubiquitous, used everywhere from software development to elementary education, helping software engineers eliminate waste and children master critical thinking.

Can the "5 Whys" Have Similar Benefits for Your Store?

Take these common player expectations:

  • Good lighting
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning
  • Well-organized product
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Open play space
  • Space for personal belongings
  • Trash cans

These were collected from a Wizards-sponsored focus group in late 2015. Anyone looking to meet the average player's baseline needs might do well to start here.

Does your store have a pain point on this list? Do you have other persistent issues you're unsure how to solve? Start alleviating them by finding the root cause with the "5 Whys."

By Matt Neubert


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