Friday, June 3, 2011

Lean Quote: Cure the Fear with Learning

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Most people would rather live with a problem they can’t solve than accept a solution they can’t understand." — R.E.D. Woolsey and H.S. Swanson

Fear of unknown, consequent failure and complacency are some of the major reasons for resisting change. There are some people out there who have no fear of the unknown, and who can simply decide logically what they want to do and do it, but for the rest of us, we have to make the unfamiliar feel familiar.

This fear can be diffused through open discussion and successful improvement events. Employees will go along with change more readily if they feel responsible for its implementation. Few people oppose something they helped develop. Employees’ involvement in successful endeavors will motivate others in the facility to join the journey and begin to implement change on their own. Ask employees for their time, ideas, and suggestions to make certain that a positive environment for change is created. Change is best done through reasonable increments and initial successes. Let people be active participants and become responsible for the new way of doing things.

People are normally very open to new solutions which they are familiar with or which they know they can easily understand and learn, but are averse to the opposite. Make the unfamiliar familiar through effective learning. You will find this is not dependent on how hard or easy the solution is to learn but how well the solution and method for learning/embracing is presented. One of the best ways to bring this about is to involve the people in the solution finding process, being receptive to their feedback on the problem, and the prospective solutions they are looking at.

Going ahead with implementing a solution that the people don't understand will not do anyone any good. Forcing them to accept and learn it will only make them rebellious and resentful. Consequently, they will rather live with the problem than work to resolve it.

I have learned the fear of the unknown is natural and we must overcome this fear through learning and understanding.

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  1. Hi,

    I just found your blog and linked to it on mine.

  2. Thanks Paul. I have been following your site for a few years now. I like your take on Mass Healthcare and the related politics.