Go See Advice
One of my colleagues, a dental supervisor at a community health center, let me accompany her a few months back to Go See a hygienist working with a patient.
During the hygiene exam, the computer the hygienist used to record details of the exam and to show current health information logged out three times. This computer system failure, outside the control of the hygienist to fix, wasted a precious couple of minutes and disrupted the flow of the patient exam. In our subsequent discussion, we learned that this failure had occurred on other days.
So, Go See revealed a problem. Now what? While Go See is necessary, there’s more to do than just Go See.
John Shook, chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, wrote a cogent e-letter on what to do, based on Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho’s seminal teaching: Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect.
Go See is the necessary first part of the teaching. Go See sets up a contrast between our mental model of work and the ways people and things really interact to produce a product or service. Go See is hard to do because our brains are set up to filter and cause us to see what we expect to see.
The second action, Ask Why, guides us to think, to inquire. Asking why, with genuine curiosity, is one way to break away from our fast mental system that jumps to conclusions and engage our slow mental system that employs reasoning and logic. (Systems 1 and 2 in Daniel Kahneman’s construct, described in Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011.) Acting as a detective, we can probe the circumstances of the failure or problem.
Chairman Cho’s third action advises us to combine the rational mind of a detective with respect for the people doing the work. Respect can be shown immediately by words and demeanor; resolving an issue like the hygienist’s computer problem has even more power: “actions speak louder than words.”
More on Respect
When starting out to practice Go See this past year, dental clinic staff reported that Go See can feel awkward at first, for both the person observed and the supervisor. Why is the supervisor or manager coming around, anyway? Until Go See becomes a regularly accepted part of work, a respectful introduction to the purpose will help: before the observation, let people in the workplace know that the supervisor is practicing a way to understand the actual work and to learn about problems that need to be addressed.
And of course, to get better at Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect, you can apply the Model for Improvement!