web analytics

The Worst Root Cause Problem Solver in the Animal World Is… Who?

We all know the beaver is “the engineer of the animal kingdom.” That’s why MIT has a beaver as a mascot… it’s an engineer who likes to build things and is generally nocturnal, an apt description of MIT students.

A survey taken by the National Geographic Society has found that the owl, however, is the worst problem solver in the animal world.

Why? Because they only ask “who?” instead of “why?”

OK, there was no National Geographic study. But why let that get in the way of a good joke?

Why let a good joke get in the way of a serious point?

The Lean methodology teaches us to be hard on the process, not on the person. Lean teaches us to look at the system instead of assuming a person was being stupid or careless or lazy, which led to an error.

This builds on Dr. Deming’s teaching us that approximately 94% of defects are caused by the system, not an individual. The patient safety movement reinforces that we need to stop looking for “bad apples” – blaming and punishing individuals – and instead focus on systems and processes that prevent errors.

Lean teaches us the concepts, methods, and mindsets of “mistake proofing” — setting up a process so it’s more difficult, if not impossible, to make a mistake. That shows “respect for people” to set up good systems instead of just lecturing people to be more careful.

Lean and “The Lean Startup” approach teach us to “ask why five times” when solving problems. Using “the five whys” is more likely to get us to a root cause than asking “who?” and blaming.

Yet, old habits of blaming individuals die hard. I see executives, even in organizations that are “getting Lean.” People need to perhaps call a “time out” when they hear an executive calling an employee who made a mistake “stupid” or saying “so-and-so was being a dingbat” or things like that.

Don’t be an owl. Be a good Lean problem solver.

Ask “why?” not “who?”

The image above was created with a stock image that I purchased and have the rights to. The image with text is copyrighted, 2014 by Constancy, Inc. Feel free to share the image, but without any modifications.

Want a coffee mug with this image as a reminder to “ask why?” – click here. Or buy a t-shirt. See my full collection of humorous (or cringe-inducing) products.

Or you can buy a canvas print:

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 7.13.14 PM

 

Do you like funny memes and images like this?  Check out our sister site www.LeanMemes.com.


About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Please consider leaving a comment or sharing this post via social media.

3 Comments on "The Worst Root Cause Problem Solver in the Animal World Is… Who?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

Inbound Links

  1. Lean Startup News | LaunchHack | July 30, 2014
  1. Robert says:

    The mice go to the owl.
    “We’ve got a problem, you see. Everybody is picking on us and we aren’t able to defend ourselves. We are fed up with it, what shall we do?”
    The owl is like:”Why don’t you just turn into hedgehogs? Nobody is picking on hedgehogs.”
    “Yes, yes… but how do we do that?”
    “Well, that’s not my concern, I’m only dealing with strategic issues.”

Post a Comment

CommentLuv badge