Tips for Lean Managers

How do You Say “‘No problem,’ is a Problem” in Romanian?

By Jon Miller Updated on May 19th, 2017

A friend of mine recently took a position in an electronics factory in Romania. He sent me an e-mail and the photo above. One day he came in to work to find this sign on his computer. It says “We don’t have a problem, only opportunities for improvement,” which is what he tells people when they bring problems to him.
It is always good to teach new people what you know. Going into a new environment to teach is humbling because you have to do a lot of learning yourself rather quickly to adapt to the new students. As they say in Job Instruction, “if the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught”. Taking others up the learning curve of thinking about and seeing work in a new way – developing the kaizen mind – it requires relearning for yourself what you already know. Another way to say this is that. We need to bring ourselves from unconscious competence back down to conscious competence so that we can be specific enough about what we want others to learn.

Simple phrases such as the one above are useful for doing this when they pack in a lot of meaning in a few words. Although Deming was against exhortations, slogans and posters as a way to encourage and motivate people, an expert on communications would probably argue that the importance of the message outweighs the medium. Certainly they should not be empty exhortations.

One of these days my fried will need probably need to teach the lesson is that the ‘no problem’ mindset is a far bigger problem than the actual problems themselves. Problems are opportunities, yes indeed. Changing attitudes in a way that leads to a positive awareness problems, a desire to recognize them clearly, to discussion and take action to correct even the smallest problems, this is the greatest opportunity of all.

That’s true, but too wordy to tape to a computer monitor.

Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.