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Embracing Problems at Google


In David Mann's book, Creating A Lean Culture: Tools To Sustain Lean Conversions, he talks about the need to “embrace problems” as a key step in creating a continuous improvement culture (as opposed to the normal business habit of hiding problems). In this NY Times article about Google, they talk about their own continuous improvement culture with their search engine results:

Any of Google's 10,000 employees can use its “Buganizer” system to report a search problem, and about 100 times a day they do — listing Mr. Singhal as the person responsible to squash them.

“Someone brings a query that is broken to Amit, and he treasures it and cherishes it and tries to figure out how to fix the algorithm,” says Matt Cutts, one of Mr. Singhal's officemates and the head of Google's efforts to fight Web spam, the term for advertising-filled pages that somehow keep maneuvering to the top of search listings.

Amit Singhal is Google's head of search engine operations. It's a good example that he treasures those problems (and isn't fixing everything himself, he assigns teams of engineers to work on the problems). If he was too proud of what he had created, he might get defensive and drive people to NOT report problems, if he reacted with anger or frustration instead.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology 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. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

1 Comment
  1. Ron says

    “The wise mend their ways” was a favorite quote of Taiichi Ohno. Too bad many people are not so wise.. instead pride (one of 7 deadly sins) have overtaken them.

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