Just got a report this morning from my colleague Annie on some progress she has made in solving a particular manufacturing problem we have. She's an engineer and is working with two of our production associates on this vexing issue.
In her report, she described how she's been on the production floor multiple times each week, handling and working with the product in question, in close quarters, as a team. And they have gained insight we haven't seen before.
The team is working elbow-to-elbow. Literally. They are close enough, physically, that their elbows can easily touch. In that setting, they make observations and communicate intensely. Over the period of two short weeks, they have begun to blaze the trail to the root cause of this problem.
This type of interaction doesn't happen via email or over a large conference table. It happens when two or three people get on the same side of a table (literally) and face the issue, close enough their elbows touch. In a Lean setting, we must solve problems quickly. And it happens most often elbow-to-elbow.
Thanks to my oft-mentioned friend Hal Macomber for alerting me to this term and principle years ago. It works. Get elbow-to-elbow with some colleague today. See what happens.
I hope this is helpful.