E6S-196 Kai-Zen and the Art of Everything - Part 2 - Journey Through Gumption

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Intro:  Welcome to the E6S-Methods podcast with Jacob and Aaron, your weekly dose of tips and tricks to achieve excellent performance in your business and career.  Join us as we explore deeper into the practical worlds of Lean, Six Sigma, Project Management and Design Thinking.  In this episode number 196,  "Kai-Zen and the Art of Everything Part 2- Journey Through Gumption," I read more passages from Robert Pirsig's iconic book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," and elaborate on how these same messages apply in business and, more specifically, Lean Six Sigma.  If you're just tuning in for the first time, find all our back episodes at our podcast table of contents at e6s-methods.com. If you like this episode, be sure to click the "like" link in the show notes.  It's easy.  Just tap our logo, click and you're done. Tap-click-done!  Here we go. http://bit.ly/E6S-196 Leave a Review! http://bit.ly/E6S-iTunes


gumption road.JPG


*** Kai-Zen and the Art of Everything - Part 2 - Journey Through Gumption ***                                                                         


I            Fill up with gumption

a.       Pg 310- Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

      I like the word ``gumption'' because it's so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn't likely to reject anyone who comes along. It's an old Scottish word, once used a lot by pioneers, but which, like ``kin,'' seems to have all but dropped out of use. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.

      The Greeks called it enthousiasmos, the root of ``enthusiasm.'' which means literally ``filled with theos,'' or God, or Quality. See how that fits? A person filled with gumption doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the track and meeting it when it comes. That's gumption....


      If you're going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven't got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won't do you any good.

      Gumption is the psychic gasoline that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven't got it there's no way the motorcycle can possibly be fixed. But if you have got it and know how to keep it there's absolutely no way in this whole world that motorcycle can keep from getting fixed. It's bound to happen. Therefore the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption.


i.      Call it gumption, moxie, grit, pride, love or drive.  It's what keeps people coming through the work-doors every day.  It's what people who hate the journey use to keep going. 

ii.      Consider that last line.  "the thing must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else...."

1.      As a trainer, it is not enough for me to deliver content and knowledge. I must also feed gumption. Gumption keeps people engaged and learning.  Gumption gets people to come back in time from breaks

2.      As a project manager, I need to feed the gumption of team members and subject matter experts.  They're already protecting it thinking I'll take it away, but if I give them some more gumption, then there is a surplus for when I may need to borrow some of it  later. 

3.      Black Belts need gumption.  They will face countless obstacles. It's only the gumption that gets them through. 

a.       This is why I carefully screen Black Belts I train. I'm looking for gumption.

b.      I "help superstars take flight." Meaning, you bring your own gumption, and I give you some extra tools to help put it to good use.

II         Avoid the value rigidity trap

a.       Pg 317 - Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


      As the course description of gumptionology indicated, this internal part of the field can be broken down into three main types of internal gumption traps: those that block affective understanding, called ``value traps''; those that block cognitive understanding, called ``truth traps''; and those that block psychomotor behavior, called ``muscle traps.'' The value traps are by far the largest and the most dangerous group.

      Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity. This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to previous values. In motorcycle maintenance, you must rediscover what you do as you go. Rigid values make this impossible. The typical situation is that the motorcycle doesn't work. The facts are there but you don't see them. You're looking right at them, but they don't yet have enough value. This is what Phædrus was talking about. Quality, value, creates the subjects and objects of the world. The facts do not exist until value has created them. If your values are rigid you can't really learn new facts.

      This often shows up in premature diagnosis, when you're sure you know what the trouble is, and then when it isn't, you're stuck. Then you've got to find some new clues, but before you can find them you've got to clear your head of old opinions. If you're plagued with value rigidity you can fail to see the real answer even when it's staring you right in the face because you can't see the new answer's importance.


i.      This sounds an awful lot like ego, but it is more external.  This trap comes when nothing fits the existing model.  When it doesn't fit the existing model, you create a new model to make sense of it. 

ii.      In root cause analysis, this is when you must abandon preconceived notions, thinking you know the answer because you've "seen it before."

1.      I've fallen in this trap.  One of our products was "growing stuff."  I commissioned several tests to see what it was. My presumption was that it was bacteria from the DI water lines, because "I'd seen it before."

2.      Some tests supported it was bacteria.  Some did not.  There was a mix of "mu" results and red herrings

3.      The engineering manager in charge of the DI water insisted it was not the water, because she has it cleaned and tested every year.  But she was not giving concrete evidence, just wanted her word to count for it.

4.      Turns out it was not the DI water, and was not even bacteria, but crystallized impurities that resemble bacteria in how they agglomerate.

a.       and it was not solved by me, or by the engineering manager, or by the engineer who was assigned to fix it or by anyone else who should have solved it because they were the experts.  It was solved by the newest, least rigid, person to join the company - the one I hired because of  her gumption. E6S-153 Yelena's Story from Russia to Riches


b.      Pg 22- Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

      I sat in the grass with him at the shoulder of the road, defeated staring into the trees and underbrush. I answered all of Chris's questions patiently and in time they became fewer and fewer And then Chris finally understood that our cycle trip was really over and began to cry. He was eight then I think.

      We hitchhiked back to our own city and rented a trailer and put it on our car and came up and got the cycle, and hauled back to our own city and then started out all over again by car.  But it wasn't the same. And we didn't really enjoy ourselves much.

      Two weeks after the vacation was over, one evening after work, I removed the carburetor to see what was wrong but still couldn't find anything. To clean off the grease before replacing it, I turned the stop-cock on the tank for a little gas.  Nothing came out. The tank was out of gas. I couldn't believe it. I can still hardly believe it.

      I have kicked myself mentally a hundred times for that stupidity and don't think I'll ever really, finally get over it. Evidentially what I saw sloshing around was gas in the reserve tank which I had never turned on. I didn't check it carefully because I assumed the rain had caused the engine failure. I didn't understand then how foolish quick assumptions like that are. Now we are on a twenty-eight-horse machine and I take the maintenance of it very seriously. 

i.      To work on "value rigidity" trap, consider the message from Alison Donaghey

                              E6S-163 Think Opposite with Alison Donaghey

III      Prepare a ready mind

a.       Pg 323 - Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


      When beginning a repair job you can list everything you're going to do on little slips of paper which you then organize into proper sequence. You discover that you organize and then reorganize the sequence again and again as more and more ideas come to you. The time spent this way usually more than pays for itself in time saved on the machine and prevents you from doing fidgety things that create problems later on.

      You can reduce your anxiety somewhat by facing the fact that there isn't a mechanic alive who doesn't louse up a job once in a while. The main difference between you and the commercial mechanics is that when they do it you don't hear about it...just pay for it, in additional costs prorated through all your bills. When you make the mistakes yourself, you at ]east get the benefit of some education.

i.      Approach seems similar to project planning, creating a work break-down structure, network diagram and agile user stories

E6S-039    Work Breakdown Structure part 1

E6S-041    Work Breakdown Structure LSS Part 3

E6S-098    Network Diagram

E6S-178    Agile Requirements Gathering- User Stories Part 1

E6S-179    Agile Requirements Gathering- User Stories Part 2



IV      Scale it down

a.       Pg 324 - Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


      Impatience is close to boredom but always results from one cause: an underestimation of the amount of time the job will take. You never really know what will come up and very few jobs get done as quickly as planned. Impatience is the first reaction against a setback and can soon turn to anger if you're not careful.

      Impatience is best handled by allowing an indefinite time for the job, particularly new jobs that require unfamiliar techniques; by doubling the allotted time when circumstances force time planning; and by scaling down the scope of what you want to do. Overall goals must be scaled down in importance and immediate goals must be scaled up. This requires value flexibility, and the value shift is usually accompanied by some loss of gumption, but it's a sacrifice that must be made. It's nothing like the loss of gumption that will occur if a Big Mistake caused by impatience occurs.

i.      Sounds like Agile to me

1.      scaling down to smaller more immediate deliverables and scope

2.      new jobs and unfamiliar techniques

E6S-100    Agile Part 1                

E6S-101    Agile Part 2    

E6S-103    Agile Part 3                

E6S-104    Agile Part 4    

E6S-141    LSS and/or Agile? Part 1       

E6S-142    LSS and/or Agile? Part 2       

E6S-161    Project Planning Part 2 - The Agile/SCRUM Way

E6S-162    Project Planning Part 3 - The Agile/SCRUM Way

E6S-178    Agile Requirements Gathering- User Stories Part 1

E6S-179    Agile Requirements Gathering- User Stories Part 2


      My favorite scaling-down exercise is cleaning up nuts and bolts and studs and tapped holes. I've got a phobia about crossed or jimmied or rust-jammed or dirt-jammed threads that cause nuts to turn slow or hard; and when I find one, I take its dimensions with a thread gauge and calipers, get out the taps and dies, recut the threads on it, then examine it and oil it and I have a whole new perspective on patience. Another one is cleaning up tools that have been used and not put away and are cluttering up the place. This is a good one because one of the first warning signs of impatience is frustration at not being able to lay your hand on the tool you need right away. If you just stop and put tools away neatly you will both find the tool and also scale down your impatience without wasting time or endangering the work.

ii.      5S perhaps

E6S-109 Intro to 5S

E6S-110 5S on the Brain - Gabriela Spagnol Part 1

E6S-111 5S on the Brain - Gabriela Spagnol Part 2                


V         Recap

a.       Fill up with gumption

b.      Avoid the value rigidity trap

c.       Prepare a ready mind

d.      Scale it down



Outro: Thanks for listening to episode 196 of the E6S-Methods podcast. Don't forget to click "like" or "dislike" for this episode in the show notes. Tap-click-done!  If you have a question, comment or advice, leave a note in the comments section or contact us directly. Feel free to email me "Aaron," aaron@e6s-methods.com, or on our website, we reply to all messages.  If you heard something you like, then share us with a friend or leave a review.  Didn't like what you heard? Join our LinkedIn Group, and tell us why.  Don't forget you can find notes and graphics for all shows and more at www.E6S-Methods.com. "Journey Through Success. If you're not climbing up, you're falling down."    Leave a Review! http://bit.ly/E6S-iTunes


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