Knowledge vs Authority  

Continuous improvement requires the coupling of authority to make changes and knowledge about what to change.

Authority without knowledge creates that pernicious breed, the "seagull manager," who, in the words of Ken Blanchard, flies in, makes a lot of noise, dumps on everyone, then flies out.

Knowledge without authority leads to frustrated workers who know what changes to make, but lack the authority to do so without the approval of at least one layer of management.

A structured problem solving approach like A3 thinking creates overlap in these two zones. As John Shook argues in his book Managing to Learn, the A3 creates "pull-based authority," such that the person with the greatest knowledge earns the authority to make decisions and improvements. That's fertile soil for kaizen.

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