It was like a Zen dialogue. The coach asked, “When you go to the shop floor, what are your “eyes” doing?”
After defining the meaning of each action, we concluded that we need to diagnose the shop floor just like a doctor treats the patients with care.
Several months after the dialogue, we went to a new factory. Since I arrived a few hours earlier, I asked my coach if he wanted to see what I had observed. He said no, he wanted to see the shop floor without any information. In less than half an hour, he came up with a Kaizen strategy to focus on line balancing, customer order issues, and quality problems. These points were highly effective, which converted the factory profitable in three months.
Reflecting on what happened, I asked if he started “diagnosis,” as discussed before. Instead, he wanted to “look” without any information or bias. This “look” without any bias might be the most challenging task. Yet, it is an important skill to have. Sometimes the source of Kaizen is from a fresh “look” at an old problem. The biggest challenge of
working on the ongoing shop floor is to overcome this bias since we all believe that whatever we’ve been doing is right. Sometimes, it is necessary to forget about what we have done and look at reality with an open-minded and candid attitude.
By the way, in Japanese, all the above words are“miru.” It just uses different symbols, 見、観、視、診、看. Each symbol has a slightly different meaning in English. But the important thing is that both Western and Eastern thinking separated vision’s actions. It is probably necessary to be conscious of the difference. There are appropriate skills in appropriate circumstances.
So, back to the Zen dialogue of “eye.” What are your eyes doing when you go to the shop floor? Are you using the right skills? It all depends.