Implied Consent

English: A cup of coffee.

Photo credit: Jason Walsh via Wikipedia

My wife and I are spending the weekend in Northwestern Hospital in Chicago.  While it’s one the best and located between the Magnificent Mile and scenic Lake Shore Drive, we’d rather be elsewhere for the obvious reasons.

We enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and no hospital joe will do.  I take a quick stroll to a nearby Corner Bakery and get two cups of a European blend to go.  Northwestern is a teaching hospital so the rock star surgeon brings an entourage of resident doctors everywhere he goes.  I feel a bit sheepish when my wife is sipping her previously unauthorized coffee as this group of doctors walk into our room.

The coffee goes unmentioned as we discuss other matters.  They leave and my wife whispers joyfully, “doctor approved” as she takes another sip of her first morning coffee in two days.  I laugh and recall some training I had as a young supervisor.

Is it really doctor approved or did he just not mention it for some other reason?  There are many reasons why leaders fail to confront issues that they notice as they make their walk through their production or work areas.  Legitimately, there may not be time to address every issue one sees on a given day so you probably need to prioritize.  Be warned though, when the team believes you see something and it goes unmentioned, they can and often interpret silence as implied consent.  It’s true for safety, quality, productivity and other metrics.

Lean Leaders go to the Gemba to see with their own eyes, address the issues, and need to understand implied consent.


Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article. You can check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there as well. Your feedback is appreciated.

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
This entry was posted in Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Implied Consent

  1. Mark Welch says:

    What’s the old saying? “What you permit, you promote?” If your wife really was not supposed to be drinking coffee the doctor had an obligation to make a point of it, as do all leaders in similar situations. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to follow orders/standardized processes.

    I hope your wife is doing well, Christian. My prayers for you all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s