YKK Stories

Fundamental Behavior 17 – Practice blameless problem solving

October 16, 2020
Author: YKK
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“Practice blameless problem solving.”

At first glance, from the standpoint of a group of a company, this seems to be a Fundamental Behavior that everyone understands and implements as they work toward the same goal. But when viewed as an individual, out of the 25 Fundamental Behaviors, this is one that is difficult to consciously carry out every day and seems to be one of the challenges that we are always facing.

Here are some examples that have made me aware of this Fundamental Behavior as I am doing my daily work as a product development manager.

As it develops new products and follows market trends, the product development department plays the role of improving and maintaining existing products by reflecting customer feedback.

Of course, the customer’s voice also includes product claims. Everyone understands that this is the most important voice in improving technical capabilities and creating even better products, but it is also a fact that this is the one voice that design engineers do not want to hear most. It’s also the moment when one can forget this Fundamental Behavior.

Upon receiving a product claim from a customer, the response that often flies about the product development department is “The product was designed by my predecessor; it’s not my design.” It’s a response that you often hear when personnel change a lot. Also, from other departments, “It’s a design problem, not our problem.” As a result, it can be difficult to deal with the problem as a company.

“I don’t want to lower my evaluation.” “I have other things to do, so I want to avoid the bother of dealing with this.” “Somebody else will take care of it.” Pride… I think all these things are at the root of this response.

During times like this, regarding the first part, design engineers should proactively find a long-term solution, not just a short-term solution, in order not to repeat the same problem with the products we are developing now and to improve and accumulate technical capabilities. Regarding the second part, we should find the root cause of the problem and work to make suggestions to improve the overall process.

However, I feel that it is difficult for this Fundamental Behavior to take root only through the above-mentioned efforts. I think it is important to find a solution together and to evaluate the resolution fairly without getting fixated on the problem. In addition, I believe that daily communication of “Good Job!” strengthens mutual trust and leads to finding solutions together without assigning blame.

When faced with a problem, let’s take the next step toward a positive solution as a group or company, not as an individual.

Masanori  Moriya
Director of Product Development
YKK AP America