Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mental Models

It is way too easy for me to have a mental model of Lean as a straight process, much like going to University.  First you take the 100 level course, then the 200 level course and, if you persevere and get some funding, you might eventually finish graduate school.  Knock off the courses, check the boxes, get the diploma.  

Which is a disservice.  

Last week, we were grappling with a problem of inadequate supply of an intermediate component assembly.  We should have had enough but ran out, severely affecting the supply of final product to a customer.  Bad news.  Drilling into the issue with the folks involved, it became clear we had missed on one element of our pull system.  Basic stuff.  But we lost track of it. 

Gee, I thought we had passed that course.  Felt we had conquered that city, slain that foe.  I guess not.  And why did we miss it for several weeks?  Fundamentally, it was the wrong mental model in my own head.  I didn't circle back quickly enough to the basic pattern which triggered the problem.  I wanted to relentlessly move forward.  Even though I have written here just last fall about linear vs. circular learning, I still was stuck in a linear mental model.  Linearity runs deep.

Take a look if you are too linear today.  


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