Sunday, November 23, 2014

LEAN Trick: Taming "Monkey Mind"

"When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened."-Winston Churchill

How many times have you caught yourself trying to control the random thoughts that constantly bounce in and out of your head? For me, it usually happens during my workouts or when I'm driving. Worst case scenarios, reliving past transgressions, sometimes gloom, doom & worry. I realize that it has been said that 90% of the things we worry about NEVER happen. Yet most of us spend non-value added time considering these random thoughts that jump in and out of our heads.
Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. It has also been said that "ego" is "fear-based thinking....a constant need to defend ourselves and our "turf". 
Now, consider people constantly working together as members of A3 teams. A3 thinking is about rapidly working through PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)with 2-4 others, leveraging the diversity of thought and gaining agreement. Companies that do this well have a considerable competitive advantage. One of the stumbling blocks to doing A3 well is the fact that most of us can't simply check the monkeys at the door. Sometimes the monkeys might have something to do with the positions we take and defend. Sometimes creative thought is inhibited by worst case thought.

I suggest 3 ways to systematically "tame" monkey mind:
1). Encourage people to meditate routinely. If it was good enough for Buddha, it is good enough for me. Meditating is one of those skills that is harder than it looks (like juggling). If you don't believe me, try having a still, silent mind for 10 minutes. We actually held classes at our Corporate University teaching dozens of people to meditate. Only then, can we work and think in the "here and now".
2). Make sure "new people" are included on A3 teams. New people have no turfs to defend, and usually have not been taught yet what is NOT possible.
3). Remind everyone that A3 is about BETTER, NOT PERFECT, and improvements should be thought of as reversible experiments......if it doesn't work, we can always go back!

Nothing is impossible for a team of people with a clear, open and creative mind.

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