Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Learning Can't Take Place Without Theory

Response to: The Secrets of Lean

I think you make good points, but I think you make a mistake stating:

"This system of learning has come from experience, not theory."

For some reason, culturally, we created this idea that theory was about disengaged people (away from the gemba) thinking in a way disconnected from practice. But this is not what theory is.

Learning can't take place without theory. Experience doesn't lead to learning. Experience with a theory and an informed observer that questions what they see can lead to learning.

It seems to me accept theory that is separated from the gemba as what theory is and then say theory is not useful, experience is. But we are making a mistake when we think this way. The problem we see in theory being used disconnected from feedback from the gemba is a bad use of theory. But the problem is not that theory needs to be eliminated, but that theory disconnected from the gemba is not useful in learning about systems and improving our organizations.

Related: Experimentation is an iterative process - Effort Without the Right Knowledge and Strategy is Often Wasted

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