Stop the tracks and give us a dose of Kaizen!

In the world of manufacturing, Kaizen is a well known process where production is stopped in order to take stock. Machines are halted, workers consulted, improvements suggested. Later, with the workforce united, machines are rebooted, and off we go again.

Our government could do well to investigate this process too. Wikipedia tells us “The Toyota Production System is known for kaizen, where personnel are expected to stop their production line in case of any abnormality and, along with their supervisor, suggest an improvement to resolve the abnormality”

Oh what joy if government were to do the same. If only they could follow the Kaizen philosophy of “Plan → Do → Check → Act” where plans are proposed (withdrawal agreement) then a breathing space allowed in order to evaluate its efficacy. If only we would Stop the Tracks, (revoke Article 50) and give ourselves time to think.

We cannot do this whilst the machines are running and the clock is still ticking. Tick-tock Tick-tock. Under pressure and not enough space to think. Too much panic too much blame. Instead a period of calm reflection is required.

From way back in the 1990 issue of Harvard Business Review, John E. Rehfel describes a Japanese strategy for engaging in healthy debate thus: “When we got together to talk about why we were underperforming, no one got emotional. The discussions were always calm, and the focus was always on solving the problems. No one seemed the least bit interested in laying blame…..[instead we ] talked about what was going wrong and how to fix it.

So let’s step back from the cliff edge where hearts are pumping and knees are shaking. Let’s move away from the parliamentary braying: the paper waving and the finger pointing. Let’s adopt a calmer more civilized debating tone such as can be observed in the European chamber. We need to stop and think. We need to grow up.

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