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Hawthorne Effect

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  • #38691

    Baker
    Participant

    Does anyone have any experience in dealing with the Hawthorne Effect in a SS project?  Obviously this effect shows up in nearly every project, but in one project it has become exponential.  The team made some small Quick Win improvements early in the project, but not nearly substantial enough to account for all the gains.
    When the Hawthorne Effect shows up this pronounced, and of course no one is willing to step forward to discuss what is being done differently…..How can the team capture these gains and hold them?
    Any help is appreciated.

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    #116227

    jkjones
    Participant

    There are some issues to keep in mind when looking at pronounced improvements made by the Hawthorne Effect.
     
    One is measurement system related.  When a metric becomes important to management, those responsible for improvement often “manage the number,” they figure out ways to change the data collection and interpretation to maximize their performance.
     
    If this is not the case, to sustain gains made by providing performance feedback (Hawthorne Effect), increase and / or maintain the feedback loop.  Much has been published about how to provide effective performance feedback using visual displays, team meetings, etc.
     
    Good luck!

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    #116234

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Jason,
    We affectionately refer to it as cockroack effect. I know none of us (particularly those in Houston) have ever lived where there are cockroaches. If you ever do you will notice they show up when the lights are out. As soon as you turn on the lights they run and hide until the lights go out again. You get the same effect with a SS project.
    It isn’t unusual to see the primary metric jump up at the start of a project (turned the lights on). Then you get the big drop. When you close the project you generally will see some rebound in the next two months (lights off).
    We did have one project where we went from 100% defective to 0% defective before we did anything (cockroach effect we thought) but we had an operator who did not know it was an issue and fixed it on her own when she found out there was a problem. She wouldn’t admit for a long time that she had done anything because she was afraid she would get fired. Because you and the team can’t account for the improvement also doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t real.
    We don’t worry about it much. There isn’t anything you are going to do about it. It is just human behavior.
    Good luck

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    #116261

    Adam Bowden
    Participant

    Hi Mike,
    Nice “alternative name” for the hawthorn effect – you certainly paint an interesting picture – “lights on”, “lights off” ! – “my sides are splitting with laughter” :-)
    Best regards,
    Adam

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    #116270

    winsorsmythe
    Member

    Mike,
    I like the term “Cockroach effect” much better. Have experienced it many times. The trick is to give managers night goggles at the start of the project. Overnight, or before the project even gets off the ground, the problem goes away!
    WS
     

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    #116275

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Jason,
    I have seen the Hawthorne effect plenty of times…especially when the Man effect is higher than the other effects (e.g. Machine, Method, Environment, etc.). 
    One way to sustain the gains is to zero in on process parameters, techniques, personnel, etc. that have changed.  Consider running an test to verify the poor and good results and DOCUMENT in a control plan so the lessons learned don’t get lost as to which parameters were the critical ones.  Control plans include SPC, updated active procedures, One Point Lessons posted at the machines. 

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    #116282

    Baker
    Participant

    Thanks for the post Mike.  We are also in the Houston area, so of course I have an idea of what you are describing with the Cockroach Effect.  I’m just not absolutely sure how the replacement name would go over with corporate management during an update presentation…never know.
    Also, thanks for the example from a previous project.  It is things like that which make this message board worthwhile.
    I am also leaning on a new theory, that maybe the operators have started ‘giving a s*#t’ now that everyone else does.  They are in a somewhat remote area of the facility, and I think they have felt somewhat neglected in the past.  We just have to find a way to hold on to this.

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    #116781

    Sinnicks
    Participant

    Expanding on Mike’s comment …
    When you see this effect it should trigger some thought about your project selection process.  Don’t get me wrong, take the improvement and make sure you apply the control to keep it.  The bottomline is it is improvement and we want to capture it and make it permanent.
    At the same time, this effect usually comes from the first time a process or area is looked at in depth.  Ideally you want your process owners to be capable and driven to pick up these improvements without using SS resources.  That should be dealt with on a DL/MBB level.  I won’t even get into the politics of SS savings.  It should be about effectively moving the whole company / business segment forward.
    Just my thoughts,  Mark

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    #116786

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Jason,
    Sorry for the delay. A little travel time in there.
    If you use it you may find out which management guys are paying attention. That isn’t all bad.
    I like that “Giving a ……” Imagine someone wanting to feel appreciated. I had a similar thing a long time ago. I had about 75 people working for me. I read that Tom Peters book where they suggested handing everyone their pay check every week and thanking them for the work they did. It worked well with everyone but one lady. She about had a heat attack the first time I showed up (isolated area) and was convinced she was about to be fired. It took almost a half hour to give her her paycheck. It became my best day of the week after about a month.
    When your project is over how are you going to keep them connected?
    Thanks.
    Regards

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    #116789

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    winsorsmythe,
    This why doing Lean before Six Sigma can be more effective. 5S and Standardized Work will get some of the people induced noise out of the system.
    Regards.

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    #116790

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Adam,
    Glad I brightened your day.
    The Rain Forest Cafe has those hand puppets and every now and then you can find the one of a cockroach. It makes a wonderful traveling award for the largest cockroach effect. It also lets them know that you know they didn’t do anything.
    Take care.
    Regards

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    #116831

    Deanb
    Participant

    Jason,
    I have seen many “apparent” Hawthorn effects, but later learned many of them were actually something else.
    Hawthorne effects presume that the change in behavior is caused exclusively by the “observation” of people at work, like the “lights out” description mentioned previously. This certainly happens, especially if people are accustomed to not being observed. 
    However, many presumed Hawthorne effects are actually more substantial culture effects where it was not just the obersvation that changed the behavior, but the interaction, dialog, teamwork, mutual appreciation, relationship building and subtle recognitions that altered the worker’s relationship with the process, or the cultural mix, which changed the level of human energy devoted to the tasks at hand. The reason cultural is vital to change mgt is because culture represents the level of human energy an organization is capable of applying to its processes. If you change the level of cultural energy, you have physically changed the process just as if you changed a vital input (like material, machine, etc) making this much more than a Hawthorne effect alone. Hawthorne effects also tend to be relatively small (but noticeable) and short lived. If your effects are more robust and permanent as you suggest, you probably have a positive culture effect, which is more about managerial skill than random luck. Most good change projects SHOULD contribute more than they ought to on paper, if they are improving the operating culture as they go. Congratulations.
     

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    #116874

    Esteban Gonzalez
    Participant

    SS Research, as any other valid an fruitful one, is based on the willingnes to make discoveries, as well as facing the facts as found, and acting on those facts. If there is a lack of honesty in any part of the process, your research findings are biased, hence incorrect, and unuseful. Research on human behavior or processes is ever more delicate in terms of honest interest and willingness to face reality we can all smell a fake interest miles away. All aspects of an organization have to be consistent and coherent, then you will get an everlasting Howthorne effect.
    PS It is not a good idea to make an analogy of your most valuable asset, with the most repulsive pest (cockroaches), I bet your staff will not like it.

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    #116889

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Estaban,
    Lighten up.

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    #116932

    Baker
    Participant

    Thanks for the post Dean.  A cultural change is exactly what I am hoping for in every project, as this will eventually help to weed out the systemic problems that exist.  The challenge now, is to find the right way to sustain these changes through both time & turnover. 

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    #116933

    Baker
    Participant

    Mike-
    I believe that your last question is the key to the Control phase of this project.  We have to find the right way to both keep them connected & hold them accountable at the same time.  Obviously, these behavioral changes now show a process capability that did not exist before.

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    #116934

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Jason,
    Good luck. You have a tough job ahead of you.
    Regards

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