Misconceptions

The first several chapters of Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management spend a lot of time discussing misconceptions. Ohno said:

“Very often after we try we find that the results are completely opposite of what we expected, and this is because having misconceptions is part of what it means to be human.”

misconceptions_1.JPGOhno explains the power of misconception using the following diagram. Please study the diagram on the left and note which line is longer – the vertical line or the horizontal line?  Once you have your answer please study the diagram below it.  Now which line is longer?

Did your answer chamisconceptions_2.JPGnge? It shouldn’t have since the lines are the same size.  The only difference is the position of the lines.

In the first diagram our eyes tend to tell us that the vertical line is longer than the horizontal line. In the second diagram all I did was shift the horizontal line to the center of the vertical line. This helps us see that the lengths are actually the same.

The point is our eyes can lie to us. What seems so clear and even, dare I say, logical can turn out to be a misconception.

And unless we step out of our comfort zone from time to time and challenge the status quo these misconceptions can rule us.  Ohno talks about thinking “beyond common sense.” These are easy words to read… but much harder to practice.

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