Lean Blog Audio — Why is the Hawthorne Effect Nothing to Brag About or Hope For?

Forgive me for being a bit of an Industrial Engineering geek here in this post. After all, my bachelor’s degree is in Industrial Engineering, even though I sometimes get called “a healthcare guy” after focusing on healthcare for just about ten years now.One of the things we learned about in our IE organizational psychology class was something called “the Hawthorne Effect.”

In the past few months, I can recall maybe three different occasions where somebody referred to the Hawthorne Effect in a positive light, as in:

“We’ll have to see if the data improves, maybe we’ll get the Hawthorne Effect.”

People have meant this in a positive light in the context of the flow of the conversations. I remember somebody almost bragging that the improvement in an area was due to the Hawthorne Effect.

I cringed… that’s not really anything to hope for.

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