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Lean: Embracing workplace errors eliminates the blame game

Posted by Stephen Parry on Oct 23, 2015 3:12:57 AM

A work climate with blame as the knee-jerk response to a problem is a toxic one. It’s reflective of a workplace that does not place a premium on problem solving.

If people are blamed, they will not surface the problems. These issues will still exist undercover, eating into resources and overburdening people, leading, ironically, to even more errors.

With Lean, there is an implicit respect for people at the core. As such when errors or mistakes are made in a Lean workplace the default presumption is that people are not the cause.

The purpose of the Lean system is to detect, correct and prevent errors, always striving to make processes and procedures error proof.

While this might be idealistic, it focuses everyone to consider designing errors out of the business not through excessive checklists (which is another form of waste) but by designing processes where errors are difficult to make, and if they occur, are quickly spotted and corrected.

In order to create a work environment that surfaces errors for teams to work on, it is important to make the work culture accepting of errors. By viewing errors as an opportunity rather than a problem, it transforms the culture into one that views such issues as part of the process rather than an exception to it.

Implementing lean

This work culture zeitgeist change makes it safe for people to talk about the errors they make themselves and errors made by other teams that they identify.

Talking about and surfacing errors must not be seen as negative, rather as an opportunity to improve the business, reduce costs, increase the response to customers and increase the service’s stability.

That is, of course, the goal of every business but only Lean truly achieves that end result.

Topics: Customer Value Principles