What is in this article?:
- Lessons From the Road: Surfacing Problems Daily
- What you can do to improve
Before jumping into my topic of choice, I want to introduce my new column. I am very happy to join the IndustryWeek team. The title of this column, "Lessons from the Road," comes from the subtitle of our book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean." My aim is to bring you practical, actionable advice to help with your continuous-improvement journey. And on to surfacing problems daily
The worst problems are those that we can't see. Yet most training focuses on how to solve problems. This assumes that we know how to surface problems and are surfacing the right ones. No matter how good we get at solving problems, it doesn't do any good if we're not solving the right ones.
Many of you have been through many rounds of problem-solving training. All of them work; it's rarely the method that's flawed. I find two faults. First, the right technique absent the right behaviors will still be a failure. Second, these techniques start after you know about the problem. We never hear about how we surface and manage problems, which precedes solving them.
When it comes to building a problem-solving culture, one of the most important traits is being able to surface problems quickly and face them honestly. During one assessment, I was observing a team going through its list of problems. Each problem was written down, and next to it was the action planned to fix the problem. Then, when the team reached the end of the list, there was some additional conversation about other problems. Clearly, these "other" problems were ones that no one knew how to solve. Because the solutions were unknown, it was more comfortable not to write these problems down. Writing problems down forces us to face them. Like most organizations, the established culture dictated that they only face problems that they knew how to address. A lean culture, on the other hand, faces even the unknown, difficult and ugly problems, and makes those problems visible.