It’s sooo clear
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”
Whenever you work in any improvement initiative, it’s probable to hear managers express thoughts similar to these: “It’s so clear that…”, “It’s evident that…”, “It’s so obvious…” and some other variants that you can easily imagine. These sentences are normally a warning signal, especially if there is clear evidence that the process has problems. Typically you’ll find one of these two situations:
- Problem one: management is not sharing the needed information with the shop floor. Managers who find everything crystal clear may honestly think that they are doing a great job sharing the critical information (e.g. what process step is causing most complaints). He/she can not understand why others don’t get it. The process may be truly very easy to understand but the information is not available where the work is really done. A gemba walk can be a great solution for this, so that this person sees in what conditions the work takes place. Once the real situation is clear, excellent next steps can be the implementation of standard work & visual management to make information available and make sure that it reaches every part of the process.
- Problem two: management is not getting the needed information from the shop floor. In this case, managers are oversimplifying (on purpose or not) a situation that is really more complex than they might think. Again, gemba walks and talking to process experts will work as an eye-opening experience. After this, standard work & visual management will help now too, but in this case you need to focus in making problems visible to everybody, agree actions to solve them as a team and make leaders go to the gemba regularly and track results.
When somebody states that everything is fine without supporting his words with data, take it more as a warning sign and not as a proof that everything is under control. This is especially important if there is no clear evidence of visual management.