"Do you have a problem?" – "No, we don't have any problems around here" - "Oh, that is a problem"
What? – I have to admit, that this conversation might need some explanation.
The dialogue above depicts a typical situation that arises when groups first start to introduce continuous improvement. In our culture, problems are so tightly connected to bad things that we tend to either block them out or try to solve them as quickly as possible - even if the latter means circumventing the problem in the first place... instead of really going to the root cause of the problem and in fact solving it.
But as Jerry Weinberg once stated "Once you eliminate your number one problem, number two gets a promotion." (The Secrets of Consulting, page 15) – so the real question is "Are you aware of your current number one problem?"
To achieve continuous improvement, it is important to be aware of your problems - and to keep in mind, that under changing circumstances, yesterdays solutions tend to become todays problems – which makes it even more important to take a close look for and at each and every problem with a fresh and open mind as unbiased as possible.