Executive Constantine Commends Employee Problem Solving

King County Metro Transit provides 400,000 trips each day to destinations around the county, so making sure that Metro’s fleet of more than 200 buses and trolleys are out on the roads every day serving customers is imperative.

That’s where Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance section comes in. These are the people who keep the buses in service.

On July 13th, Executive Dow Constantine met with a number of Metro Transit vehicle maintenance superintendents who have been immersed in Lean leadership development for several months.

Constantine thanked them all for their hard work, saying, “The value that we need to deliver services in a time of constrained resources and growing need is here in our employees, in their work, and their expertise.”

In addition to learning Lean leadership skills like coaching and listening, each of these superintendents has been learning and applying problem-solving thinking with their teams via the A3.

The A3 is a problem-solving tool (download A3 template) that helps people

  • identify problems,
  • specify outcome goals that could be achieved by solving the problem,
  • understand the current condition and the root causes of that problem, and
  • to develop and test countermeasures that might resolve the problem.

Elie Kourdahi and Dow Constantine discuss his brake room analysis

Elie Kourdahi discusses his problem-solving analysis and improvement work with Executive Constantine.

Elie Kourdahi and Stanley Lillquist, superintendents at North and Bellevue vehicle maintenance bases respectively, working together with fleet engineering analyst Bruce Dahl, assessed whether the county could save money and time by buying standard bus brakes to replace worn out ones rather than rebuilding brake shoes in-house.

Rebuilding brakes in-house may have been the more efficient solution at one time, but using A3 thinking, vehicle maintenance staff analyzed what the data said today, in light of advances in brake technology and the cost of replacing the machines that the county uses to rebuild the brakes.

Kourdahi, Lillquist, and Dahl worked together to test countermeasures and analyze the data.

Other superintendents used A3 thinking to examine issues involving employee injuries, hybrid bus efficiency, responsiveness to customers, and a number of other Metro Transit priorities.

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