Vol. 5, No. 10
“If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Those are some of my mother’s words of advice that have stayed with me. Although she was a dedicated Catholic, I just found out that she may have also been part Buddhist.
At my second annual visit to my local Buddhist monastery last week, I learned a new question to ask myself. It turns out that the question is central to Buddhism. The question is “Is this thought, speech, or action to my benefit and the benefit of others?” Sounds a lot like Mom’s advice, eh?
maxim offers admirable direction, but in the hard, cold world of business,
and, by the way, Six Sigma, we cannot “say nothing at all.”
That is true, perhaps, but maybe we can do something even better. During
the monastery visit, I remembered that I am lately finding myself getting
angry in diverse situations. As I tried to find a common theme, I realized
that I have been getting angry when I see traditionally powerful people
taking actions that cause harm to people less powerful than they are.
When I shared this frustration with the Venerable Bhikkhu Khemasanto,
he reminded me that the powerful person is not likely to have evil intent.
Moreover, my anger is not likely to benefit either myself or the other
If your tormentor is a person more powerful than you, he or she probably has different information than you do, or a different world view or perspective. That person may feel the need to maintain or increase stock price no matter what, and may be unaware of viewpoints other than his or her own. The tormentor may, in fact, be unaware of skills, processes, resources, and other options available that you know about.
If your tormentor is an employee, he or she is likely to be operating from a lack of information or skill. David Chambers, a pioneer in the world of continual improvement, liked to tell a story about poor operator performance in a textile plant in the middle of the last century. Management was upset by the poor quality caused by the textile workers in their plant. David was asked to solve the problem. Simple conversations with the workers showed that they thought that productivity was the goal without regard to quality. They were told quality was important. Quality improved. Some workers, however, were still making poor quality products. Upon further examination, it was found that these workers had poor eyesight. In those days, eyecare was not an employment benefit and eyeglasses were expensive. Once these deficiencies were taken care of, the quality problem evaporated.
If the tormentor is a supplier, make sure that he or she too, understands the requirements. Several years ago, I managed a plant that suddenly began receiving customer complaints about visual defects. We were the tormentor. After attempting with little success to fix the problem, I went to our customer’s plant, only to find that that they had revised their operation and significantly improved the lighting. Once we revised our own process to match that of our customers, our quality improved.
In the world of Six Sigma, if someone is driving you nuts, figure out a way to say something nice so you don’t have to be quiet. Benefit yourself, benefit others, and benefit the improvement effort by having a conversation. The Six Sigma tools we all know are useful but the conversation is essential.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. I'm at email@example.com
Copyright 2003 PQ Systems.
Please direct questions or problems regarding this web site to the Webmaster.
formation you can use: