Houston, we have a problem…or don’t we?
Do you have problems in your organization? Does everyone agree on what they are?
Teams worry about problem solving processes and problem solving skills. But if they can’t even agree on what would be a problem and what wouldn’t be, then what’s the point?
Is the report or order being late a problem, or just work? Is the equipment being down a problem, or just another day? Is that customer complaint a problem, or just a cranky customer?
When we lack definition of what is a problem and what isn’t, waste and frustration is the result. People can’t get alignment when they start working on a problem. Other problems go unnoticed or unclaimed. People lose trust in others for working on problems they think are not worth the effort. This lack of definition can be a bigger problem than it might appear on the surface.
Many would suggest that at Toyota, any abnormality is a problem. But if that is the definition you start with, then you might just have 1,000,000 on day one. You will likely have to start with a definition that isn’t quite as revealing. But what’s important is that you continue lowering the water line to expose more and more.
Have you discussed what defines a problem in your team?