Critical thinking is an essential part of everyone’s daily lives and is not reserved for just the workplace and/or school. “Critical thinking is valuable in many contexts outside the classroom and the workplace” (Bassham, 2002, p. 27). The simplest decisions can have huge affects if the critical thinking process is not used. The problem described below is a good example of how small choices can impact an organization and its members in a detrimental way. The reader will see the product of what happens when the critical thinking process is left out and decisions are made on a whim.
“Computers cannot make decisions involving values and risk preferences. Here, human judgment is required” (Bazerman, 2002, p. 5); hence, the primary problem being that the Person in Charge (PIC) is not familiar with scale read-outs and therefore requires the assistance of the Mass Production Engineer (MPE) to complete the task safely and successfully. Due to a serious lack of judgment, miscommunication, and role ambiguity the uploading process had to be shut down in order to avoid a safety hazard. This series of problems violated safety measures and had the potential to negatively impact the companies bottom-line.
When the Spacecraft was being transferred from tooling to the transportation cart the PIC alerted the Manager that there was a problem, which led to the operation being halted. Once the Spacecraft was off-loaded, the PIC, Quality Inspector, Quality Engineering, Vehicle Engineer, and Manager assessed the situation. An Incident Report and an Electronic Process Anomaly Record were generated and an immediate investigation was launched. All personnel involved in the situation were interviewed and all data was collected.
Additionally, photographs were taken of all the pertinent tooling and flight hardware. The goal was to get to the root cause of the problem. The objective was to prevent this situation from recurring and to disseminate the findings to the enterprise. A Root Cause and Corrective Actions (RCCA) method, using Six Sigma, was used to frame the problem. When the RCCA committee gathered, a brainstorming session was initiated to obtain maximum information. A problem statement was formed and the background of the problem was investigated, which led to the exercise of containment actions.
The result of the investigation was documented using a fault tree, of which the root causes were determined. Corrective actions were assigned to the responsible parties and estimated completion dates were announced; all findings and actions were implemented. All information and findings were then disseminated to the enterprise. The process was concluded when the Corrective Action Board documented all lessons learned in order to help the enterprise be proactive in all future activities. The problems encountered with the PIC and MPE have made the organization liable for physical injuries and monetary losses.
Due to the lack of judgment, product knowledge, and the breakdown of communication the organization is now required to thoroughly investigate the matter. The organization also has to invest additional time and money toward the formation of a Root Cause and Corrective Action Team. Additionally, the organization has the added expense of cross-training and offering continuing education in order to reduce the risk of the same problem happening again. The problem that occurred is easily resolved, but if left unchecked the problem can cause further problems that affect the organization and its members.
The decision-making models show many methods of solving problems, but mostly that the circle of improvement goes on. The company could implement an “always at your station” guideline, among others. The guideline, however, is not going to help the team solve the underlying problem of bad judgment. If common sense is used, the problem will be solved immediately. If the employees have difficulty using good judgment the team could possibly implement additional safety training as a reminder of how to stay safe.