LeadershipLeanSix Sigma

Dealing with Doubting Thomas

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011

Doubting ThomasToday, Roman Catholics around the world read about Doubting Thomas.

No matter what your personal belief system is, I think there is much to learn from this story, especially for those of us attempting to drive change in our organizations.

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Since Thomas did not see the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes, he just couldn’t bring himself to believe that He had in fact rose from the dead (even though his friends told him this was the case).

Beating my head against a wall

When I hear these verses, I am reminded of the times I have attempted to get people to try new ways of working only to face massive opposition (e.g. that won’t work here… we’re different… you just don’t understand).

The most frustrating part is, like the “other disciples,” I have seen the things I am promoting work with my own eyes!

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Go to Gemba

In many cases, in order to get people to believe in what we are saying (e.g. one piece flow is best, 5S is critical, variation is the enemy, etc.) we must show them.

We could make a half goofy video, shoot a statapult in a green belt course, or make paper airplanes. Or we can bypass the games and head straight for the gemba, or the place the work is done, and just do it.

However, no matter how much evidence we provide, the only way a true and lasting transformation will occur is when these doubting Thomases develop a blind faith and trust in what we are preaching.

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed

Let’s face it, in the end we cannot show the skeptics of world everything. Eventually, they must begin to believe in what we are saying.

The good news is, once this new found faith takes root (and it will if we persevere), great and powerful change will result.

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  1. Alan Williams

    March 30, 2008 - 9:25 pm

    I am a Christian and really enjoyed this post. It takes guts for you to share your faith like this to the whole world. This really inspired me. Thank you.

  2. Ron Pereira

    March 30, 2008 - 10:12 pm

    Thanks Alan. I am glad you enjoyed it. Have a great week!

  3. Brian Buck

    April 1, 2008 - 12:45 pm

    I am a Christian also and loved how you incorporated this into Lean! Keep up the outstanding work Ron.

  4. Ron Pereira

    April 1, 2008 - 9:26 pm

    I will do my very best, Brian. Thanks for stopping by!

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