Get the Facts

Without sounding overly dramatic I’m fairly certain my content development team and I are working on the most important Gemba Academy course we’ve ever produced.

This new course will be focused on the Job Relations (JR) aspect of TWI (Training Within Industry).  As an aside, we’ve actually released some good JR focused podcasts in the past so I’d encourage you to give them a listen.

But, today, I want to focus in on an extremely important aspect of JR – getting the facts.  This fact getting step just happens to be the first step in the “how to handle a problem” JR process.

You see, it’s been my experience that the vast majority of the human race (including us lean thinkers) absolutely stink at getting the facts.  In fact, upon reflection, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve totally blown it when it comes to fact getting.  I even tell the story of how I failed at getting the facts as the coach of a youth soccer team in this podcast.

When we fail to get the facts we run the risk of making bad decisions.  And, in some situations, failing to get the facts can lead us to making the problem worse than it was.

The JR process encourages us to consider 4 things as we get the facts.

  1. Review the record.  We need to look at past performance.  In other words, does this person have a problematic history or is this a new occurrence?
  2. What policies, rules, and regulations apply?  If dealing with a work related problem what rules and policies exist?  We need to know these guidelines before taking action.
  3. Talk with the individuals concerned.  In other words, before you hit send on that angry email why don’t you take a deep breath and have a little courage and pick up the phone or, better yet, talk to the person face to face in order to ensure you REALLY know what’s going on?
  4. Get Opinions & Feelings.  And when we’re talking with the person involved in the problem we need to do our best to understand their opinions and feelings.   A key tenet of JR is that what a person thinks or feels, whether right or wrong, is indeed a fact to that person and must be considered as such.

So, the next time you come across a people related problem (likely later today) I’d encourage you to consider the 4 points above before rushing to action.  In particular I’d encourage you to actually talk (and listen) to the person involved.




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