Friday, October 17, 2008

Going Deep into the Basics

Had a wonderful conversation this morning with one of our supervisors. The ostensible topic was a scheduling question. But, from that, she asked a most wonderful, telling and profound question.

“So just what does ‘single piece flow’ mean anyway?”

This supervisor has been in on and supportive of our Lean efforts from day one. She knows about single piece flow. Yet, as she explained the context of her question, it showed a growing depth of understanding. She was no longer mimicking the simple answer to the question; now she was grappling with the principle underneath the technique.

We went into the specific matter prompting her question. It had process criticality, major quality demands as well as logistical challenges.

“So just what does ‘single piece flow’ mean anyway?”

The seemingly simple question was actually deep. We grappled with the application in this setting. We left it for her to assess how best to apply it. She does, after all, know the setting better than anyone else in the company.

And, more encouraging, is asking the question. It challenged me to keep asking basic questions. I hope it does you as well.

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