“The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better,” President Obama
Do you remember when you were a child and your parents ask you to clean your room? Not that you wanted to do it but if you had to do it anyway you wanted to do it your way. But you mother insisted in telling you where you have to store every action figure, every puzzle, every little thing you have. After a short but intense struggle you end up doing what she said.
When we are trying to improve a process, most of the time we feel the urgency to jump straight to the answer without even asking what happen. That same urgency push us to tell people what we think has to be done without asking for their input. Imposing ideas in the work place is never a good way to improve the process much less the work environment. It is just like the children following his mother’s instructions with reluctance, not a single intention of make it work.
A visit to the gemba is never complete without interaction with the employees. Observation of the process is critical but when the time comes to ask for why’s, do not ask yourself or other managers, ask the person(s) doing that process. Even if the answer is obvious, you need to engage the employees by asking with respect, guiding them through the root cause analysis process. Allow them the chance to express their ideas and proof them right. If they were wrong, still there is a learning process. Take the learn lessons with you and guide them through a start over.
The more people participate from this process, more and better ideas will come through and together we will change things for the better. That is the spirit of a problem solving people focused workplace.