Quality Progress - May 2013 - (Page 64)
One GOOd IdeA
BY WilliAm A. levinSon
Act the Fool
Heyokas play an important role in an organization’s survival
A Heyoka is a sacred clown or contrar-
lenge existing practices without constraint
Shingo asked, “If all you need to do is paint
ian in the Sioux and Lakota language.
by calling attention to underlying assump-
the pen caps, why paint the air as well?”
Using satire and farce, they ask difficult
tions and paradigms. This concept appears
He observed at least half of the paint
questions, help others see situations
in a Diesel clothing company advertising
sprayed missed the caps. That company
differently and open eyes to things often
campaign, “Be Stupid.” The campaign
paid for wasted paint twice: first in the
overlooked.1 Almost every workplace has
encourages people to take risks, innovate
cost of its purchase and again when it
a few heyokas, and they are vital to the
and challenge established paradigms.2
became an environmental problem.
Words of wisdom
doughnut’s hole,” means to pay attention
more than an entertainer or fool. The
Shigeo Shingo often acted as a heyoka. At
to everything that is thrown away (the
jester also played an advisory role. He
a metal forming facility he asked, “Why
hole) as well as the product (the dough-
was the one person who could criticize or
grease scrap metal?” Instead of greasing
nut). Phrases like “grease scrap metal” and
admonish the king and speak the truth and
the entire piece of stock, he thought the
“paint the air” put processes and waste in
The phrase, “keep your eye on the
In medieval times, a court jester was
a new perspective. When Henry Ford said,
“Pedestrianism is not a highly paid line [of
work],”4 he was commenting on jobs that
required workers to walk to get tools and
parts due to poor workspace organization.
Ford thought walking was a waste of motion that was built into the job and taken
An effective heyoka uses questions and
observations to challenge procedures, paradigms and organizational culture—not the
people who do the jobs. This is consistent
with auditing and other quality approaches
that place blame on deficiencies in tasks or
the work system, not the staff. QP
get away with it. The jester’s words could
manufacturer should only grease what
be disregarded as jokes according to social
came into contact with the press. This
norms and customs.
1. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heyoka.
2. “Be Stupid,” Diesel, www.diesel.com/be-stupid.
3. Shigeo Shingo, (Andrew Dillon, translator), The Sayings
of Shigeo Shingo: Key Strategies for Plant Improvement,
Productivity Press, 1987.
4. Henry Ford and Samuel Crowther, My Life and Work,
Doubleday, Page and Company, 1922.
would reduce the amount of lubricant the
The fool in tarot card decks may symbolize a similar role—the ability to chal-
A Lesson fRom Levinson
company needed to purchase.
At a fountain pen manufacturing plant,
William A. Levinson is the author of “easy A,” which features tips to ace certification exams. Check out the open-access column, which appeared in QP’s July 2012
issue, at http://asq.org/quality- progress/2012/07/one-good-idea/easy-a.html.
64 QP • www.qualityprogress.com
WILLIaM a. LevInSon is principal
consultant at Levinson Productivity
Systems P.C. in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He
has a master’s degree in engineering
from Cornell University in Ithaca,
nY, and an MBa from Union College
in Schenectady, nY. an aSQ fellow,
Levinson is an aSQ-certified quality
manager, auditor and engineer, reliability engineer and Six
Sigma Black Belt.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - May 2013
Mr. Pareto Head
Avoiding an Avalanche
What Makes You Tick?
Quality in the First Person
Special Section: ASQ Enterprise and Site Members
3.4 per Million
One Good Idea
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - May 2013