Don’t Hide Problems in Computers

Making things visible is a key to effective management. And data in computers can be easy to ignore. Don’t forget to make data visible. Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recently hosted Hideshi Yokoi, president of the Toyota Production System Support Center and wrote this blog post:

Together, we visited gemba and observed several hospital processes in action, looking for ways to reduce waste and reorganize work. It was fascinating to have such experts here and see things through their eyes. Mr. Yokoi’s thoughts and observations are very, very clear, notwithstanding a command of English that is still a work in progress.

The highlight? At one point, we pointed out a new information system that we were thinking of putting into place to monitor and control the flow of certain inventory. Mr. Yokoi’s wise response, suggesting otherwise, was:

“When you put problem in computer, box hide answer. Problem must be visible!”

The mission of the Toyota Production System Support Center to share Toyota Production System know-how with North American organizations that have a true desire to learn and adopt TPS.

Related: The Importance of Making Problems VisibleGreat Visual Instruction ExampleHealth Care the Toyota Way

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3 Responses to Don’t Hide Problems in Computers

  1. Adi says:

    This is one of the main lessons to take from the Toyota Way I think. The vital metrics to do with a particular task should be visible, both the success and failure points, and the times when things start to go wrong should be visible to all so that action can be taken.

    I wonder how many people, for instance, know how their department is doing right now?

  2. Pingback: Data must be visible | Development Shift

  3. Thanks for sharing this nugget. It’s a great point. We often build systems, in computers and otherwise, that essentially designed to hide the problems. If problems can’t be seen, they can’t be solved. I don’t think that means never use a computer however. Many problems computers can help us solve and help us see, especially when problems aren’t physically visible. Don’t approach the technology question dogmatically. Just ask yourself what are the best ways to make and keep problems visible. Then use the right process and right systems to help you do that.

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