Silence: A Gift to Quality
F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E
Now that the holidays are over, things will start to heat up again. The daily round of meetings and telephone calls, not to mention the barrage of emails, will replace « Silent Night ». Of course, cooperation is a key component of quality methods such as Kaizen Events, 8 Discipline Problem Solving and Brainstorming. But, should all quality improvement occur in group settings? Is there still a place for silence, for quiet reflection, in the drive toward continuous improvement.? Do we need to build silence into these processes?
Much has been written about the power of silence.
Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Sir Francis Bacon, 16th Century – All the unhappiness of men arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.” Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) on Busyness, Distraction and Diversion.
So how important is silence to continuous improvement?
Wayne Walter Dyer, an American self-help author claims that “ Everything that is created comes out of silence. All creativity requires some stillness. In his address to graduating students from West Point Military Academy, William Deresiewicz linked solitude to Leadership. His message was that solitude and introspection are essential to leading change, finding new ways of doing things and finding new ways of looking at things. Gary Cokins, in Why is Solitude the Secret to Enterprise Performance Management, maintains that Executives, managers and analysts all need some solitude. It is solitude that provides them the chance to dig deeper and explore root causes and drivers of outcomes.
Clearly, a fast-paced, go-go environment not only contributes to personal stress, it may also hinder our critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Ray Williams, executive coach and author of Breaking Bad Habits maintains that we have forgotten that we need time to stimulate creative thinking and that doing nothing may, in fact, be critical for productivity and improvement.
So how to incorporate silence into collaborative quality methods?
For critical thinking development, sometimes silence is golden. The Faculty Inquiry Network in California successfully used strategies to help develop students’ critical thinking in group sessions. They allowed students more time to process and problem solve on their own and limited lectures to short segments to prevent information overload.
Other suggestions include building in time for reflection and energy renewal. According to Thai Nguyen, 10 Important Reasons to Start Making Tine for Silence, Rest and Solitude, disengagement and taking a rest are often the way to burst through mental blocks.
So how do you include silence in your quality techniques? We would love to share your experiences in an upcoming blog.
About the contributor: