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But, where do we need to be?

August 8, 2022
A client last week … A department knew they had ‘problems’. Productivity had dropped, Work in Progress was growing, quality ‘issues’ (that were ‘sort of’ measured) were raised. What then happened is very common in many workplaces. In the midst, one question saved us lots of time, effort, and energy.

Once the problems were made ‘seeable’ and the elephant in the room was discussed, the conversation quickly changed to ‘fixing’ the problems. We went down rabbit holes, we turned left, we turned right, everyone had ideas about what we should do next, as clearly, we needed to do something! Side conversations broke out, the room had lots of energy.

So which ideas did we pursue, which ones were selected? We could have listed hundreds, we could have taken votes, we could have …

Resources in this department were limited (as I’m sure they are everywhere) peoples time and effort must be used effectively and efficiently.

Then came the turning point. Over the swelling conversations someone said, “Where do we need to be?”. When I heard this, I asked the room to quiet down and asked them to repeat the question. This time a little louder the person said, “Where do we need to be?”

Great question! I could see the room hadn’t quiet understood so I then asked, “Why do you need to know where we need to be?”. The person then said, “It’ll be heaps easier for us to see the ‘problems’ if we first know where we need to be. It’ll be even easier for us to work out how we fix them”.

The next 15-20 minutes was then spent determining where they needed to be – nothing fancy, just something that was clearly measurable.

The room then became cohesive. Don’t get me wrong, the room before this point was keen, they had great intent, the energy was there, but it seemed like everyone was bouncing in different directions. This simple question created cohesion. I’d love to know how many potentially misspent resources this one question saved.

“Teams strive (toward Target Conditions) much better than they troubleshoot.” (Mike Rother)