Chronic information deficits—offices and the production floor are flooded with them, saturated with questions. Those questions divide neatly into two categories: questions we ask and those we do not. And what happens when we don’t ask questions that need answers? Another two-category set forms—we either do nothing and simply stop and wait. Or we make stuff up. We simply make up an answer…something that sounds just about right. When that happens, we can get lucky and our jury-rigged answer works and doesn’t harm. Other times, we make stuff up and it works against us and the company. Accidents happen, material is lost, components or medicines get mixed up, defects occur, delivery times are missed, customers flee. In other words, they trigger motion.
Questions are one of the most obvious and useful ways to recognize the information that is missing from your workplace. But because questions are so common—and answers so vital—some people (including managers, supervisors and leads) can sometimes think that their main job is to answer questions—day in and day out, all the time.
Organizations that are ignorant of the connection between missing answers and motion attempt to cure the situation through supervision, micro-supervision, measuring, SPC, warnings, classroom, and OJT training. But the problem does not go away. The company has motion sickness. And there is only one sure-fire cure for motion-sickness: a) track the motion until it leads you to the information deficit; then b) excise that deficit through solutions that are visual. Imbed the answer into the living landscape of work.
Here’s one easy and elegant way for you to do that (first mentioned in my article in the April 15 issue of the Visual Thinker). Try it out for a week or two on yourself. Then teach it to everyone else, including your mother, and your so-called communication struggles will come to an end. I call it: “The-First-Question-Is-Free Rule.” You can help a lot of other people and yourself by applying it. Here’s how—in two parts.
Though The-First-Question-Is-Free-Rule cannot replace a systematic visual conversion methodology, it is a smooth and easy way to verify the level of info deficits in your area (or company)—and therefore the need for workplace visuality. Use it as your company prepares to officially launch its visual workplace initiative—and take a big bite out of motion sickness.