Mediocrity can talk, but it is for genius to observe. – Benjamin Disraeli
The Inside FMEA series has completed the primary facilitation skills. The next few articles will cover special facilitation topics.
This article talks about the pros and cons of using a “scribe” to help with facilitation.
What is a scribe?
In ancient times, a scribe was someone who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing. In modern times, a scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist.
In FMEA applications, a scribe is someone who enters FMEA information into an FMEA spreadsheet or database in real time during FMEA meetings. It is an optional role.
Why is the role of scribe useful in FMEA meetings?
One of the key attributes of an excellent facilitator is the ability to keep eyes on the team. Assigning the role of scribe, for entering FMEA entries, and making them visible to the team, can be a significant help.
Does the FMEA scribe only make FMEA entries?
No, the scribe is usually double hatted. The assigned scribe makes entries in the FMEA worksheet or database, as well as offering their opinion to the FMEA discussion, based on their area of expertise.
What does a scribe do in FMEA meetings?
In general, the scribe listens to the FMEA proceedings and enters information that advances the FMEA meeting toward its objectives. The whole idea is to make the FMEA proceedings visible to the team to solicit feedback and keep the meeting moving. Of course, this also allows the FMEA facilitator to not have to slow down the meeting while everyone waits for information to be entered.
The best scribes don’t wait to be told what to write. They observe and when information is discussed that would benefit from “making it visible,” they make an entry on their own decision. In other words, they do not have to wait until the team has fully achieved consensus before entering information. They can decide when a certain level of information will be useful as part of the consensus process. By making useful information visible, the team can make adjustments and end up with FMEA entries that reflect team discussion and consensus.
Should you use a scribe in your FMEAs?
Some FMEA facilitators are sufficiently skilled as typists that they can keep eyes on the team while entering vital information in the worksheet. In many cases, the FMEA will go faster and more efficiently with proper us of a scribe.
Regardless of whether or not a scribe is used, it is important to not have the team waiting for information to be typed. It is a waste of valuable subject matter expert time to sit and watch someone type.
The role of scribe can be rotated between the FMEA team members.
There are times when there are two or more competing ideas or solutions and an FMEA facilitator has difficulty arriving at consensus with the FMEA team. One tool that can be used to solve this problem is Pugh Analysis. The next article in the FMEA Facilitation series presents this unique type of decision matrix called Pugh Analysis.