Vicki was stumped.
“Your team member is in the break room, having a soda, thinking about a problem in his work area that needs to be solved,” I repeated. “Would you call that work?”
“I want to say no,” Vicki struggled. “He is not at his work station working, so he can’t be working. I know, he is not being productive, so even though he is thinking, he is not being productive, so he is not working.”
“And if he does not solve this problem he is thinking about, his productivity will stop,” I continued.
“You want me to say yes, he is working, but it feels like no,” Vicki insisted.
“Vicki, do you pay your machine operator to move a piece of metal into position and to press a button to cut the metal? Because, if that was it, you could hire a robot. Or do you pay your machinist for his judgment of how raw materials are organized to enter the work area, the cleanliness of the scrap produced by the machine, the attention paid to the preventive maintenance to keep the machine operating?”
Vicki finally responded in a long slow sentence. “I pay him for his ability to solve problems and make decisions, not to push the button.”