Ears to listen

Good ears are essential to learn music and new languages. Likewise, the attitude to listen is required to acquire new ideas and information.

With age, learning new concepts becomes both easy and difficult. Learning is easy when the new idea is based on previously acquired information. Learning is difficult and takes times when the new idea contradicts previous knowledge. Learning is very difficult and may be impossible when the new idea conflicts with an established belief, or when the new concept demands change of attitude that may cause embarrassment, conflict with old acquaintances, or other social discomfort. An example of the last case may be a person with authority changing his stance on an issue to support his previous opposition, which will invite scorn from the person’s former supporters.

Facts do not depend on the convenience of any individual or system. Scientific advancement is possible because the data is rigorously tested and the logic is checked before conclusions are derived. The application of this methodology in manufacturing has proven to be successful in many instances.

Although the process of problem visualization and issue resolution based on data is common in manufacturing, many organizations exclude the office work processes (i.e. non-factory work) from continuous enhancement requirements. In some cases, the louder voices still control the discussions and political agendas dictate the interpretation of data. These processes produce unclearness in decision-making and also tend to slow down, if not stop, efficiency and effectiveness improvements of office and managemement work.

Whatever the background, lack of readiness for new information reduces opportunities for enhancement on many fronts. Opening the ears to new information, re-examining the assumptions that filter data, and setting aside personal and organizational preferences, are some ways to find new directions for advancement and to discover points requiring improvements. Without the suitable attitude for listening, people and organizations hear only hear what they want to hear and continue to operate without progression.