Learning to See (and Spell) in the NHL

GM Place VancouverHere’s a funny little story I saw on ESPN today (Nicklas Grossmann reveals extra ‘n’). Apparently when former Dallas Stars’ defenseman  Nicklas Grossman  entered the league in 2006, it was assumed his name was spelled Grossman with one ‘n’ (see pic).

Recently, his new team, the Philadelphia Flyers saw that the player’s passport had his named spelled as Grossmann. Yup, his jersey and everything has been wrong that whole time. I assume the paychecks could still be cashed…

So Grossmann’s name is finally spelled correctly. Why didn’t he say anything? I’m sure it was a simple mistake. From ESPN:

Grossmann said when he was young, he didn’t want to complain, saying, “I was just happy to have a jersey with my name on it.”

Well, it was “A” name, if not his.

Maybe the original defect came in Sweden, when the passport was produced? Maybe his family name is really “Grossman” and it’s an inherited trait to not speak up? :-)

In an organization’s Lean transformation, we often talk about teaching people how to see waste. John Shook’s excellent book on value stream mapping is called  Learning to See, not “Learning to Value Stream Map.” But when people see waste (such as the “defect” of a misspelled name), there needs to be an environment where people can feel free to speak up.

How often does that happen in your organization, where the problem is people being unwilling or unable to speak up about waste as opposed to not seeing the waste? Using our good Lean problem solving skills, do we ask why they are unwilling or unable to speak up?

Do we have to be really mindful of that and make sure we’re making it easy for people to speak up? How have you tried to address this?

Creative Commons License  photo  credit:  HÃ¥kan Dahlström

(hat tip to Uni-Watch.com, a favorite blog of mine)


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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