It’s no incident

In last week’s Automatiseringgids (a Dutch IT newspaper), I read an article about learning by playing (spelenderwijs leren in Dutch) as an effective tool to train people in ITIL (using a simulation of a Formula 1 race).Learning by playing is something I believe in and which I apply in workshops and courses. It was also one of the themes that emerged from the SoL Dutch Open conference we held in November 2005 – playing is learning, learning by playing – see also the description of the Fear to Fun session on the conference wiki (in Dutch).

The Automatiseringgids article described how incidents are handled in the simulation: the first time something breaks down, it is regarded as an incident; the service desk team passes it to the engineering team, who fix the problem. When the problem occurs more often, it is apparently a structural problem that needs a structural solution. This is something that management can judge and solve better than the engineering team can.

The Toyota Way of handling incidents is different – there are no ‘incidents’ there. A problem or defect doesn’t just happen, there is something in the process that causes the defect or the process currently doesn’t prevent the defect from happening. So it is always a structural problem. When a problem or defect is detected, the team stops the production line, identifies the root cause and fixes the process. Furthermore, there is no separation of engineers who do the fixing and managers who do the thinking – the production team together with their team leader are responsible for finding and implementing structural solutions.