Can You Really Catch Everything?

This is a guest blog post by Ankit Patel, CEO of The Lean Way Consulting. You can follow Ankit’s thoughts on his blog or find him on Twitter @AnkitTheLeanWay.

Before we go any further I would like for you to watch a 68 second video that tests your awareness and perception:

YouTube Link for those who can’t see it

Please watch the video before going further.

Did you see the bear the first time around? The original study was done by The University of Illinois and they found that when people are told to count the number of passes the white team makes about 50% of the audience will miss the person in the animal suit entirely. If they were just told to watch the video then nearly 100% of the audience sees the animal.

Let’s shift gears and look at our work environment. We get the “just a second” tasks where we’ll get a one time or reoccurring task we need to do that only takes a short amount of time. You can see how having too much to do will cause somethings to go unnoticed. So what can we do about the situation now that we are aware? I am a very big advocate for Lean and the methods used. Standard work, error proofing, and visual workplace all help to the awareness errors that might occur.

Standard work alleviates the stress of wondering what to do or how to get everything accomplished in an alloted time. With standard work we can implement tools like checklists that make sure we accomplish all tasks that need to be done. If a surgeon doesn’t have a standard way of counting all the tools and supplies after a long tiering surgery there is a higher risk of something being left inside the patient.

Error proofing is a great tool because it minmizes or eliminates possible accidents and errors. Human beings can only process so much information at a time so if we eliminate the cause of errors we can go a long way to maximizing potential. A great example of this is a diesel gas pump will not fit into a car that only takes unleaded fuel.

A visual workplace is also a great way to reduce the amount of inputs we get from the outside world. Similar to error proofing, visual controls allow us to simplify tasks and highlight areas of possible error. Traffic signals make driving at intersections safe. There are clear visuals to show us what to do so we don’t have to be thinking about all the traffic form all the angles.

Lean is partly about simplicity but is also about people. These tools are designed to give people the best chance of success in any task. How aware are you in your workplace? Did you see the bear?