The Power of Explaining Why – A Funny Example
This sign and picture might be a bit rude, so I saved this for a Saturday.
To me, a very powerful and often unknown principle of the Toyota Production System and Lean is the idea that managers must “explain why” to employees if they give a directive order. I saw this when I visited the NUMMI plant and wrote about how they treated employees like adults by explaining why certain defective parts shouldn’t be used rather than just barking orders or relying on formal positional authority.
I’ve found this to be a very powerful method to use in hospitals — going out of your way and making the extra effort to explain “why?” to employees or even patients and families.
When I was able to visit a hospital in The Netherlands a few weeks back, I was able to spend some time touring Amsterdam with my hosts.
I spotted this sign on a door in an area where there’s a lot of partying and late night drinking, apparently (you can tell I was there during daylight hours). It’s on a door at the street level, larger picture to follow below:
Here’s a larger version of the sign, and it reads:
I wonder if that’s more effective than a sign that simply says, “Don’t piss here.”???
And… walking to work the other day, from Boston into Cambridge, I saw this gem of a “why?” sign:
Isn’t that more effective? By saying “this drains into the River” and having the picture of the fish (who wants to harm fish?), I bet there’s far less dumping than if it just said “DO NOT DUMP!!!”