Fresh eyes see things differently.
The “lean” strategies of “going to Gemba” (leaving the desk or the office to spend time at the workplace to see what is going on) and “standing in the circle” (taking time to stand in a circle at the workplace and spend it observing and listening) cater to this understanding.
I was visiting with a plant manager who recently took a week to go work on a machine to see what was really happening: “I was checking on the machine regularly but we weren’t making any progress. But, when I stopped to work with the guys, we really began to make some progress. I would time things. We would make changes. We would catch the good things and eliminate the bad. I began to see things I couldn’t observe passing through. We were able to help things up and down the line.”
The struggle is finding the time to take time. But, those who bite the bullet and take the time are reporting that it makes such a quick difference, they wonder why they put it off.
Taking the time to do an improvement effort creates capacity with existing resources. The discipline of putting new eyes on a situation with an aim toward improvement will pay dividends. Leaders who can’t pull it off will be falling behind.