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Having No Problems is the Biggest Problem of All

Posted by Linda Vicaro

Dec 12, 2022 10:30:00 AM

“Having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” I’ve heard many variations of this quote from Taiichi Ohno. 

I recently worked with someone who could not bring themself to see the value in problems. I had a sign on my wall that read, “problems are good.” When I met with this co-worker, we would often debate the quote and they would try to find a way to paraphrase that felt better for them. We discussed, “Problems are good to solve,” and “It’s important to talk about problems.” But regardless of the paraphrasing, what this person believed is that problems are bad. This means that hearing about a new problem was always a disappointment, their initial reaction was always negative, and the people who reported to them knew that.

Many of us struggle with this, but it’s good to be reminded of the value problems offer both in providing opportunities to get back on track and also in challenging us to break through to new levels of service. For example, not long ago, I was doing some work that I believed I knew how to do and was happy to be doing for the first time. Upon completing this work, I realized I had done it wrong. Worse, it was also clear to a customer that I had done it wrong. 

This problem led to stress for a customer and my colleagues and extra work for everyone involved. However, it also led to many conversations about how to do the work. The conversation didn’t stop at how to do the work in the current state but turned into a larger discussion on how to do it even better. This problem led to a breakthrough in our approach to the work I had been trying to do. If I hadn’t experienced this problem, we might have continued with the old approach for quite some time. Instead, we’ve found a new way to do this work and have gained a deeper understanding of its purpose and value. 

This is why problems are good. Problems are important to talk about, they are good to solve, and your organization is never going to get anywhere if you don’t recognize the value they offer. The consequence of failing to recognize the value of problems is that you won’t see them, and if you don’t see them, you can’t grow and break through to new levels of success.

KaiNexus makes it easy to recognize, discuss, and solve problems. If you are a customer, make sure you are taking advantage of this, celebrating your problems, talking about them, and growing from them.

Topics: Improvement Culture

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