Friday, November 6, 2020

Lean Quote: A Desk is a Dangerous Place From Which to View the World

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.


"A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.  — John le Carre

All too often, attempts are made to solve problems without knowing anything about or not being familiar with a particular area or process -- resulting in a misdiagnosis or failed solution. Many managers rely on gut instinct to make these important decisions, which often leads to poor results. 

In my experience answers come from the floor, from the 'gemba,' where the condition occurs. No matter what your position is or what you are working on you can not underestimate the importance of going to the gemba. You need to go to the real place and experience the conditions for yourself before being able to take solve problems. 

You can’t solve problems at your desk. Going to the gemba is a great way to get the entire team involved in identifying and solving problems. It is grounded in fact finding using actual conditions from the actual workers who perform the work. This activity creates energy within the team solving the problem leading to experimentation, ideas, and discussion on improvements.

When managers insist on incorporating facts and evidence, gathered from direct observation at the source they make better choices and their companies benefit. 


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