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By: Nicola Balloch


Hello readers,

We’re back with the third blog in our Working from Home series!
From personal experience, we know it can be challenging to stay motivated when working from home. There are so many distractions, and it can seem like the tasks you managed to do in the office are now impossible… That is where the Wall of (No) Excuses comes in! So make yourself a cuppa and keep reading to find out how to make use of this fantastic Lean tool.


The Wall of (No) Excuses


The Wall of Excuses was created in the early days of the Lean initiative by senior managers from The University of St Andrews. It lists some of the commonly heard excuses for why people didn’t want to work with the Lean Team.


To help overcome these excuses, the Lean Team then developed the Wall of No Excuses! It serves as an antidote to the negativity expressed in the Wall of Excuses, and encourages healthier attitudes to problems that are more likely to lead to success.


Although some of these example are specific to a university setting, it is easy to see how this approach could easily be adapted to different contexts. The key point is that your mindset when facing problems has a massive impact on how you handle them. To illustrate this, let’s look at the ‘dot problem’. Simply grab a pen and paper to play along!


The dot problem was developed by psychologist Norman Maier in 1930. At first glance, the instructions seems enough:
Connect these 9 dots by drawing four straight lines that go through them all. Once you begin, the pen cannot lift from the paper until you are finished the fourth line, and you cannot retrace any of the lines you draw.

Scroll down to see the solution.










Did you manage to solve it?
Often, when people see the 9 dots arranged this way they think of them as a square. Being mentally fixed on this square prevents you from looking outside of it for possible solutions. This is also true of how we approach problems in different contexts. Therefore, to come up with solutions, we often need to ‘think outside the box’.


With that in mind, below are some of the common problems people working from home may experience, along with some suggested new mindsets with which to approach them:

Excuse 1: Certain processes are complicated, which makes them difficult to complete them from home
Instead, try: Now is a great time to review the processes we use often! Can we remove some unnecessary steps to simplify it? And, can these changes be maintained to make it easier in the long-run?

Excuse 2: Sometimes I just need a quick ‘yes or no’ answer, but communication via email causes delays
Instead, try: Our current communication systems aren’t meeting all of our needs. Let’s explore ways to address this!

Excuse 3: People aren’t as productive when working at home
Instead, try: Working from home brings difference challenges than being in a workplace. How could I change my schedule or workspace to make things easier for myself?


For more advice on being lean whilst working remotely, look out for the next post in our working from home series. Plus, if you would like to find out how we can help your business or organisation make its processes more efficient during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to contact us!



Reference for Dot Problem: Reasoning in humans: I. On direction, by Norman Maier (1930). Published in th Journal of Comparative Psychology.

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