Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Effective Change Agents change the conversation

I am in the middle of reading Toyota Kata, by Mike Rother.  It is one of the few books that have me talking aloud back to the book.  No, I am not schizophrenic when that happens; it means I am trying to have a conversation with the author.  There have been quite a few books along my quality journey that have me talking back to them.  Eli Goldratt’s The Goal was one.  Denis Waitley’s Empires of the Mind was another.
Mike Rother is definitely speaking to me regarding what I am finding at the shipyard and how we have to change the conversation, which is exactly what Paul Borawski was asking the quality community about in his June blog post.  
Some tidbits that really struck home:
·         Old think:  Work + Improvement; New think:  Work = Improvement
·         No problems = Problems
·         Problems are opportunities to learn not things to avoid.
·         When you consistently “pull the andon cord” 1000 times a day, what happens on the day when you only pull it 700 times? Is it improvement or avoidance?
·         When a problem arises, which question is most often asked by supervision?
o   In which part of the process was the procedure not followed?
o   What is preventing the operators from working according to standard?
·         When experimenting with the process to see if a change will work, what is the first statement that is said?
o   “Well, let’s see if this will work.”
o   “I am not sure it will work.  What do we need to do to make it work?”
As an instructor and facilitator I was taught the power and timeliness to use open-ended and close-ended questions.  I want to change the conversation.  How do we ask questions that promote open-mindedness?  How do we engage leaders, the majority being closed-minded due to their mental models based on experience, to open their minds to questions and situations that attack typical paradigms?  Where can quality professionals acquire that skill? That, to me, is the game changer. 
So Paul, prepping the ground through mentoring future leaders helps but we have to reinforce that mentoring with asking the right questions.  Instead of open-ended or close-ended, let’s focus on questions that open minds to possibilities. How can ASQ support the community to open minds of leaders to accept that quality is no longer just about product?
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