This is an answer to Dave Brunt’s question on twitter.
It happens all the time, when looking at someone’s work or while gemba-walking a company.
I first experienced this ability to find needles in haystacks in my early days when working in quality control. With my QC colleagues, we were able to find defects in already checked and screened products as if it was a sixth sense.
It keeps happening constantly since and it’s very helpful when working to improve operations at our customer’s premises.
People whose job is to check, control, assess or audit hone their inspecting abilities, develop routines and experience teach them where to look and what to look for.
On the other side, people feel uneasy or even guilty when “caught” with a deviation compared to standard or “normal” situation. They tend to excuse themselves and justify the deviation with so often heard sentences:
- It’s not an usual situation
- Normally it does not happen
- This is special
If the assessor’s ability is a real talent, it does not change the laws of statistics, especially the sample/population ratio to have given probabilities to find a defect or deviation. There are not more defects, simply the talented controller will find more of them.
Conversely, if defects are found but not created by the controllers, it means that “usually” there are defects which go through the process undiscovered.
Considering looking at someone’s work while the task is executed is a bit different as the observer may disturb or influence the doer. Sometimes in a positive way!