Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2017

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40 MMS September 2017 mmsonline.com THE VIEW FROM MY SHOP Guest Columnist As the guy in my shop expected to know all of the answers, people often automatically come to me whenever questions come up. Some of those questions are valid, some are truly challenging and some are beyond me. O thers represent laziness, and some I consider downright stupid. But what bothers me more than the stupid questions is the fear that something stupid will happen because stupid questions aren't asked or, worse, because valid questions aren't asked. I have always found it hard to draw a line on when to enforce "discipline" on questions that seem to be born from laziness, from wanting a quick answer or opinion on a matter instead of the asker think ing through the question and coming up with his or her own possible answers. When it comes to meeting expectations, mine or those of the customers, there are a lot of areas that require a clarified position. When I encourage too much discussion for clarity, my day gets consumed by dealing with a lot of off-the-cuff questions. I don't like to make people feel "dumb" for approaching me, but I also don't like it when they seem to put their brains in neutral and try to pass off all sorts of questions to me. A lot of times, this is more of a ref lection on someone's personalit y than on whether or not they are good at their jobs. One of my work-arounds for this is letting it be known in advance that if I believe employees are not thinking things through enough before asking me a question, I will ask them to come back with a proposal of three solutions of their own to the question. Everyone seems to under- stand the validity of this approach, and most have found they eventually do come up with their own answers without even talking to me. When they do approach me, it will be to get confirma- tion on what they think is the best solution, or it will be looking for an alternative because they don't like any of their solutions. So, when I feel inundated with questions from people, I simply say to them "three solutions." This tells them I feel like they are asking a "stupid" qu e stion, one they have n't thought through enough. Sometimes they don't return with that Are There Really No Stupid Questions? Maybe. Sometimes the asker just needs to be encouraged to think through a situation more thoroughly to come up with his or her own answers. KEVIN SARUWATARI OWNER QSINE CORP. CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA This Month's Columnist: Qsine's "three solutions" approach encourages everyone in the shop to come up with their own viable options and then select one based on its merits.

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