domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2016

True Crime meets Lean.

Its holiday, and I really hope you had a great time this Christmas. I hope Santa brought all your gifts and really hope that companies, as well the economy in general will get better for everybody in the world. 
Tonight I want to talk about podcasts. I´m kind of addicted to podcasts. I have been subscribed to Gemba Academy and Mark Graban´s podcasts for a while now. They are really great, so if you haven´t listen to them, I urge you to do it. You will get insights related to Lean and different other topics, such as Customer Service, leadership, continuous improvement and one of the most important, that I have been able to know other authors, speakers and leaders who work everyday to spread the knowledge and principles around Lean, and also to correct the misconceptions around it.  
Podcast: a program (such as a music or news program) that is like
radio  or television show but that is downloaded over the Internet.

Thanks to that and that I read the New Yorker, I came across with Serial. The famous podcast that during its first season, told the story of Adnan Syed, who was charged on the murder of his ex-girlfriend and locked for the last 17 years. The people who know me on a personal level, knows that I am true crime fan. And also a fan of series. So if you haven´t heard it, and you like the topic, listen to it. It is very good and the quality on the production is something that deserves a try. This is relevant because I found, recently a new podcast; Accused.  This podcast, in the tradition of Serial, tells the story of Elizabeth Andes, who´s case remains unsolved. Well at least that is what the journalist Amber Hunt says about this case. Elevator speech is; Elizabeth Andes was murdered, the police charged the boyfriend as the killer, but two different juries found him not guilty and he walked.
Accused: Podcast about the Elizabeth Andes case. A jumping to
conclusions case that has remained unsolved for 37 years.
So, what do this horrible story has to do with Lean? A lot in my opinion. Police was convinced the boyfriend was guilty, they even got a confession, but still, the boyfriend walked away. In the podcast, the Cincinatti Enquirer digs deep to try to know the truth. And what is noticeable is that despite the amount of evidence, the many suspects that weren´t investigated, the Police is still convinced that they charged the right guy, but they say that:

The justice system, just didn't work. 

This is the main reason why the police hasn't investigated further, and why this case is still unsolved and open, even though the police says they had the right guy. Through the episodes, is clear that police didn't like the fact that someone suggests that they may have Accused the wrong guy. Over and over we hear that they got the right guy, they don´t believe anybody else did it. And made me reflect why it is so hard for humans to accept the possibility of making an error. 

Basically  this story, is about jumping to conclusions before making a proper analysis: the result is that the case has remained unsolved for 37 years. Does that sound familiar? Jumping right away to conclusions? Pointing fingers to someone who was later determined to be innocent? This is very similar to business. I realize that we don´t like to be told that we committed a mistake. I believe it is because we have been taught that being wrong is bad. That we should avoid being wrong and that too often being wrong may bring undesired consequences. We are, basically taught to fear making mistakes. Being wrong is in fact, one of the best ways to learn and develop skills such as resilience, discipline and careful observation. PDSA is  based on trying different solutions, and observe the effect those solutions have on a given problem. Learning from each experiment and re-think the approach to the problem, until the issue is either solve or the solution is improved. Toyota kata are a series of routines that allow controlled experiments to be conducted in order to solver a situation or specific problem and, learn from them. So basically, encouraging, in a controlled way, failure and learning about our the plan, what´s preventing from achieving the results, and what to do next. Which I find powerful, because in the end, we are learning more from the situation we try to modify. 
Toyota Kata Process.

I think that´s why  babies do a lot of disasters. They throw things, paint walls, and basically create a big mess every time they can. Through this experiments, they learn, and absorb knowledge about the world and the situations around them. If this is a natural manner to learn? Why isn´t failure encouraged? Why taught kids that failing is wrong? Of course, nobody wants to fail. However, if we fail in a controlled way, is actually something really good. Just ask Toyota. 

I guess changing our beliefs, and the things we have been taught since kids, isn´t easy. But we must start at some point. And recognizing that we may have made a mistake, is a very good start. And of course, take actions to either confirm our mistake and take a new route, or be sure that we did it right the first time. In both cases great learning can be found. What have we done correctly to achieve the desired result? and of course, What have we done incorrectly and what needs to be done now in order to achieve the desired results? 

Of course, to do this, we require methods and systems that allow experimentation on a continuous basis. But also, experiment without harming our customers. Here is when Lean can help to create those systems. And at the same time, change the way failure and mistakes are perceived.  It may not be easy, but sure can be done. Probably in the case described in Accused, may not be right away, but  I´m confident that new techniques, technologies and methods will help to bring light to the situation soon. In the mean time, Lean thinkers should take lessons learned, reflect, and at the same time hear our podcasts this holidays. 

Hopefully this new year, won´t commit the same mistakes we did last year. I truly hope that this 2017 would be a better year for all!

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading. I would love to read your thoughts about this topic. Please leave a comment and read you next time. 

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