Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Lean Features
Akhilesh Gulati
To solve thorny problems, you can’t have either a purely internal or external view
Katie Rapp
The future of manufacturing is about making processes more efficient
Bryan Christiansen
And when to hire one
Tom Taormina
How to transition from a certified quality professional to an expert in business management systems
Chip Reavley
Well-designed solutions lower costs and increase revenue

More Features

Lean News
Quality doesn’t have to sacrifice efficiency
Weighing supply and customer satisfaction
Specifically designed for defense and aerospace CNC machining and manufacturing
From excess inventory and nonvalue work to $2 million in cost savings
Tactics aim to improve job quality and retain a high-performing workforce
Sept. 28–29, 2022, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA
Enables system-level modeling with 2D and 3D visualization, reducing engineering effort, risk, and cost
It is a smart way to eliminate waste and maximize value
Simplified process focuses on the fundamentals every new ERP user needs

More News

Mike Micklewright


Does Your Company Publish Fake News?

How to overcome it in a kaizen culture

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 12:03

Fake news has fast become one of the most popular new phrases of 2017. We see it in Western politics, we listen to our news channels debate what is fake and what is not, and we hear our late-night comedians pan fake news with politically motivated jokes every chance they get.

The questions that are important for us to ask include, “Is fake news just as prevalent in the workforce as it seems to be in politics, and if yes, what can be done to combat it?”

What is fake news?

Fake news is the deliberate publication of hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news. Unlike satire news, fake news seeks to mislead (rather than entertain) readers for financial, political, or other gain.
Fake news has become very prevalent in U.S. politics. BuzzFeed News published the following list of the top 5 fake political news stories on Facebook:
• “Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide” (2.2 million Facebook shares, comments, and reactions)
• “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement” (0.96 million)
• “Trump Offering Free One-Way Tickets to Africa and Mexico for Those Who Wanna Leave America” (0.80 Million)
• “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide” (0.57 Million)
• “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE to Reunite and Release Anti-Donald Trump Album” (0.56 Million)

Pretty shocking stuff, huh? And that’s why these news articles are shared so much—it’s the shock value of hearing that a high-profile person made such a controversial move or comment that inspires people to share the “news.”

Does fake news exist within businesses?

Sure it does. It just looks different from electronic headlines. Why does it exist? For the same reasons it does on the political scene—personal, financial, and political gain.

What might fake news headlines read like in your business? Perhaps:
• “First-Time Quality Jumps by 40% As Employees Incentivized to Participate in Suggestion System”
• “Lead Times Cut in Half Through ‘Work Harder Program’ Combined With ISO 9001 Registration”
• “200 Black Belts Trained, Leads to Doubling of Market Share”
• “Profits Increase by Slashing Inventory to 2010 Levels”
• “Employee Morale at Highest Level Ever Since Merger”

Could these headlines match the definition of fake news as being hoaxes, propaganda, or disinformation with the purpose of misleading for financial or political gain within an organization? Absolutely. Distributing propaganda and disinformation does happen within organizations, in the form of PowerPoint presentations, annual reports, blogs, monthly internal reports, and company newsletters. And sometimes it is for financial or political gain as supporters and drivers of certain programs find ways to play with, fudge, and tweak the numbers to make them look like their programs were successful, thus justifying that big end-of-year bonus or promotion.

Fake news does occur within organizations, indeed!

How does an organization combat fake news?

In a word… transparency. We hear politicians talk about the need for transparency, but we rarely see it. We also hear business leaders talk about transparency, but how does a company become more transparent at all levels within the company? That’s where kaizen, done on a daily basis, comes in. The following are a few examples of how to combat fake news by developing a kaizen culture:

Gemba walks
A gemba walk is viewing or observing the process, at the place where the value is added, on a predetermined schedule based on one’s leader’s standard work. The purpose is to see the real process, identify waste, empathize with the worker, and challenge all on their knowledge of the process and results, while at the same time coaching them on how to improve the process. Gemba literally means “place.” Management at all levels must show a commitment to going to the gemba. Why is this done? For transparency. To see the real story, to see the real data—frequently—and to avoid relying on fake news that might be reported at monthly management meetings in a conference room, where the real truth can be hidden so it looks like a financial or political gain has been achieved.

Visual management
The purpose of visual management is to provide transparency of individual processes at the gemba to the workers and all levels of management. This is to ensure that the state of the process, and all gaps between actual and expected performance, are clearly seen at any point in time so that immediate action can be taken before it is too late. It is the ultimate fake-news deterrent because data and information displayed on visual management boards are extremely granular (i.e., production on an hour-by-hour basis), and as such, easily verifiable against actual conditions, especially since the visual management boards are located at the gemba. Anyone, at any time, can stop by to see how the process is running at that moment, thus making fake news difficult, if not impossible, to propagate.

Huddle meetings (or daily accountability meetings)
The purpose of a huddle meeting is to discuss the most recent results from a process-focused value stream or work cell, as displayed on a visual management board. The primary focus should be on occurrences of negative gaps between expectations and actual performance. The discussions and resulting actions that follow are based on brief discussions by the team members who have control over the results that they measure and the actions that will be deployed. The beauty of huddle meetings in combating fake news is that the data are real time or very close to real time; the meetings are at the gemba so verification is easy to do; and the results are critiqued and evaluated by the natural team members and a cross-functional group of stakeholders, rather than just one person publishing fake data.

Combating fake news just shouldn’t be a problem when a company truly functions by the spirit of the principles, purpose, and tools of a kaizen culture.


About The Author

Mike Micklewright’s picture

Mike Micklewright

Mike Micklewright has been teaching and facilitating quality and lean principles worldwide for more than 25 years. He specializes in creating lean and continuous improvement cultures, and has implemented continuous improvement systems and facilitated kaizen/Six Sigma events in hundreds of organizations in the aerospace, automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, food, healthcare, and warehousing industries. Micklewright is the U.S. director and senior consultant for Kaizen Institute. He has an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, and he is ASQ-certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, quality engineer, manager of quality/operational excellence, and supply chain analyst.

Micklewright hosts a video training series by Kaizen Institute on integrating lean and quality management systems in order to reduce waste.