Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Quiet Fixers" are the enemy of learning

This is the last post, I promise, on "x-teams." The authors neatly describe a phenomenon that I've witnessed at every company I worked for. I dare say I was guilty of it a bunch of times.

It's called "quiet fixing." Here's how it's described in the book:

At Toyota, for example, when a new car comes off the assembly line with a defective door handle, the person responsible for that part does not fix the problem quietly without the assembly team leader noticing. Instead, the team comes together to identify the root cause of the problem to ensure that it does not happen again. This process often gets noisy, and it requires psychological safety. Without it, quiet fixers would rule the day--leaving the source of the problem and its consequences to crop up again and again. (Ancona and Bresman, "x-teams," p. 93)

When at EDS we were studying the Learning Organization, I used to joke that we weren't a Learning Organization, we were a Forgetting Organization, like the guy in "Memento" who has lost his short-term memory.

What I was saying, in essence, was that we had a culture of "quiet fixers." In the last ten years, I've seen how common, in fact, that is.