Deep expertise, quality culture and the long road

Dr. Zeynep Tufekci, a professor who writes about the social impact of technology, wrote and excellent Op-Ed in the New York Times this past weekend titled “What Elon Musk Should Learn From the Thailand Cave Rescue.” In this she takes to task silicon valley, stresses the importance of hard-earned expertise and the “safety culture” model. A topic near-and-dear to my heart as a quality professional, as she stresses the importance of deep expertise, lengthy training and the ability to learn from experience (and to incorporate the lessons of those experiences into future practices) as a valuable form of ingenuity.

Safety culture = quality culture. It has been said many times that the only real difference is that of the question asked (patient safety vs employee safety), but lets all agree that the tools used are pretty equivalent.

What this article really reminds me of is an article from A Lean Journey back in February titled “Lean Culture: Do You Want Firemen or Farmers in Your Organization.”

I see this a lot in Lean, especially early in the transformation process. An idea that any expert is equivalent, that quick, fast wins are the best. Which is sometimes relevant, often not good for the long run. Its interesting that we are, what, 30-40 years into Lean as a management methodology in this country (my entire adult life I have been involved in Lean projects of one sort or another) and it still feels new in most places.

I think that the trends Dr Tufekci and Mr McMahon are discussing are very similar. Stem from similar causes, and probably lead to why a lot of long-term transformations don’t get the benefits we intend.

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