Problems Don't Have a Conscience

I've been learning a lot this month. The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of leading managers and their people in the skill of genba observation in 10 different North American manufacturing plants. Today, I learned that problems don't have a conscience.

Here is the situation. The HMI panel failed, so the engineer put a temporary solution in place. You can see the situation below:

What do you see? The display is resting on the air conditioner. The mouse is not on a mouse pad. Where is the keyboard? Do you see it? There are all types of violations of commonly accepted RULES here: falling hazards, ergonomic hazards, etc.

When I asked the engineer, "What do you see here?", he instantly went on the defensive. I can understand why, I have been stuck in this type of situation as well.

His breathless response was that it was a temporary solution and that the replacement HMI was coming in a few weeks. I smiled and thanked him for his honesty about the situation and his urgency in taking care of the broken HMI.

Then I asked him: "Do problems care if they are temporary or permanent?"

He appreciated the insight. "No, you are right. We are the only ones who care if problems are temporary." During the wrap up summary, he stood up in front of more than fifty people and shared this story with them. I have no doubt that he has improved the way he thinks about problems.

Do problems care if they are temporary in your plant?

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