Posted by: Knightbird | September 4, 2012

“The Invisible Gorilla-How Our Intuitions Deceive Us”

If you have not read this book, and you are a disciple of W. Edwards Deming and the principles of Lean Management, run to your Barnes and Noble and buy yourself a bargain copy. I cannot tell you how much valuable information and confirmation of thoughts I have had is contained in this incredibly well researched and documented book.

Take the concept of “inattentional blindness” or the “illusion of attention.” Using a medical example, the authors explain how a guidewire used to insert a central line in a femoral artery caused a variety of medical issues for a patient when it was not properly removed after the procedure. Despite 3 x-rays, an echocardiogram and a CT Scan, not a single doctor or radiologist noticed the guidewire until another doctor performing a procedure noticed and removed it. Even though they were looking for the cause of her issues, they missed it. Instead, they were looking for something else and missed what was very obvious on the film.

This “inattentional blindness” happens all the time in our workplace. We see what we are looking for, and miss so much because our brains are only capable of a certain level of detailed attention. When we encounter a defect, instead of seeing something we can fix, we see something that has become so common we just take care of it and move on. We do this despite the fact that this defect could account for thousands of dollars of waste. In fact, we compliment ourselves for our ability to solve issues that our co-workers cannot. And our co-workers sing our praises for our ability to solve their problems.

In reality, bringing in a Kaizen team and walking the Gemba, followed by a value stream mapping session, put this illusion in front of us in yellow stickies. We can then add the facts from our Gemba walk and the experience of those in the process to gather more facts. Then we use the structure of Lean tools such as CEDAC, spaghetti diagrams, swim lanes and so many others to discover the waste and envision an experimental future state where we build a defect freeing process.

We miss so much as human beings. When we understand our limitations, and this happens all of the time in Lean events, we can start compensating for them.

As I think about my first sentence in this blog, let me revise it. Buy multiple copies and share with your senior management.


  1. Thanks for the great book suggestion, Dad! It’s on my list.

    You may very well have read this one already – “The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing.” I just finished and was thinking of you and the information on early childhood trauma you’ve shared with me over the years. I enjoyed the writing and the case examples of therapeutic recovery he shares. LU!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: