Notes
23 Sep 2021

Solve. Resolve.

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Painting metal parts of a tractor is complicated. Mudguards, dashboards and bonnets are odd shaped and even a microscopic scratch is a defect. The process has multiple stages and a hundred steps must be synchronised to deliver quality. In 1990, I learned this at a tractor manufacturing factory near Chandigarh in Punjab. The manager, Jain Saab,was kind and patient. He taught me that defects cannot be traced and solved by one operator. They must be analysed and resolved with collective action of everyone on the shop floor. Defect is not an output of a bad process, it is an outcome of bad interactions between multiple actors. Interaction defects need to be resolved together.

Educating children of uneducated parents is complex. There is no support at home. Capacity is limited. Learning outcomes must be achieved with limited resources. Multiple stages and hundreds of steps must be synchronised to deliver quality. On a cold wet morning in 2019, I was facing the founders of four not-for-profit startups in a conference room at Panjab University. They were experienced in many areas such as teacher training, parent engagement, leadership development, teaching methods, and education technology to mention a few. I asked, “What are the problems that each of you have solved?” Jain Saab, the paint shop manager, spoke in my head, “This is not the output of a bad process, it is the outcome of bad interactions between multiple actors. This does not need one more fix, one more solution. This needs to be resolved, together.”

Exploring: The Punjab Education Collective

Image Credit: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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