I have been thinking about how we articulate processes.
In my current project, I have had to integrate existing operational processes into a canned computer software package. I have no access to the code, and making specific changes is problematic to the point of not being an option.
I have recently been amazed, amused, and a more than a little embarrassed by how easy it is to make assumptions based on what has not been said. Amazed and amused because the engineers with whom I am working are very good at assuming that we are all on the same page. Embarrassed because I have gotten pretty good at it, too.
I have experienced, just in the last few weeks, a lot of wasted effort and some frustration, both internal and external. Maybe a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or maybe better yet still, knowledge and objectivity do not coexist easily.
To compensate, I have gotten a little obsessed with making sure that everything is said in words. It is an interesting experience to be force the conversation to slow down and to force people (including myself) to actually say what they are thinking.
An interesting experience, and because it is being done as the reestablishment of a discipline, which means that we are that much more aware of it, the effectiveness and efficiency of doing so is extremely clear.
The lesson here, as I see it, is that words are inexpensive, so we may as well use a lot of them
The lesson here, as I see it, is that we communicate what we do, what we need, what we want much more clearly when we take the time to ask the “obvious”, to ask the questions to which we already know the answers just so that we can get all of the words out, to give the answers that we believe that everyone else knows.
The lesson here, as I see it is to drive out fear. One of W. Edwards Deming’s 14 rules is to “abolish fear”. In his context, it is the fear of proposing new ideas and the tyranny of management. In my context, there is the fear of appearing not to know, or not to understand something. It is that fear that stops us from asking or answering or simply articulating what we are thinking.
The lesson here, as I see it, is that in developing or defining process, we need to balance the big picture thought process against the discussions of detailed operations. Both are important and we need to be able to speak clearly not only in both contexts, but in the context of integrating the two.