Some SQUIDS (S=Safety issue, Q=Quality problem, U=Unusual situation, I=Income costing, or D= Delivery) are hard to see because we don’t own up to them. Or maybe other team members around us won’t own up to them.
Why don’t we see our mistakes? Pride. Complacency. Inattention to detail. The list could go on and on. Sometimes we even cover up our mistakes intentionally. How many times have I walked through the production area of our shop and seen a print job in the recycle bin? Didn’t know anything about that squid, but sure enough, somebody else did and “hid” it in the bin.
But I’m not talking about the mistakes we know about, and then won’t acknowledge. I’m talking about those squids that we don’t readily see. There is a whole class of squids that lurk in the dark shadows that we don’t even know are there.
Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield famously said, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
So, now we’re talking about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns.”
I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Our multi-talented sign guy was on vacation. We are not adequately cross-trained in that department, so wouldn’t you know it, here comes a nice sign order. This order was a bit unusual in that it was more complicated than normal. But we had produced this very job many times before.
We simply weren’t ready. So, we jobbed out this job to a friendly sister company. We cleared a couple hundred dollars, when we normally would have cleared somewhere near six to seven hundred.
Some would say, “where’s the squid here?” We got the job, we farmed it out, the customer is happy…” what’s the harm; what’s the foul?”
On the surface, this is all true. But the hidden squid is in what we lost. We lost the opportunity to make a better profit. The team lost the opportunity to be challenged with a difficult job when our lead sign guy was out. Lost opportunities are hidden squids. They must be acknowledged and learned from.
So, what did we do going forward? We did write up the Squid; we did discuss what we would do differently.
The biggest takeaway from this squid was that we simply were not ready for anyone in a key role to take a vacation, get sick, or simply be away from the office for a few days for any personal reason. This is not healthy.
So, we have to cross train vigorously.
The problem with a hidden squid is that you might not even know what hit you. So, make sure you spend time looking for the hidden squids.
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