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Dumb Jobs

Dirt Can’t Hide. Dumb Can.

Earlier this evening, I was recording some Lean audio training-my “Dirty, Dumb, or Dangerous” entry from The Continuous Improvement Companion.

I thought I’d highlight one of the points I made in that article.

(Remember-dirty, dumb, or dangerous tasks show a lack of respect for people, and should be eliminated.)

Dirt is easy to spot. Granted, sometimes it works its way into nooks and crannies, or gets under guards and covers, but when you are looking directly at it, you know what it is. Most people won’t look at a dust bunny under a desk and confuse it with a stuffed animal.

On the other hand, dumb is much harder to identify. I once saw a process where a routing slip accompanied deliveries between two groups. The first group pulled off the top copy and filed it. The second group added some info, and filed the second copy in their own work area. They then returned the third and final form to the first group where it was matched up with the original and filed away.

When I followed the process during a kaizen, I noticed that neither group did anything with the form. In fact, identical information was now entered into the computer system. When I asked why they filled it out, both groups had an identical answer: “The other group needs it-we just keep a record for our files.”

It turned out that the form was a throwback to the days before the ERP system, and hadn’t been needed for several years. The kicker? The forms were a special print job, and were rather expensive.

We stopped that dumb task right away. The problem was that it looked like real work. You’d be hard pressed to walk up on someone filling out a form and immediately see that it was waste.

The lesson? Go to gemba and watch processes frequently. Look for the dumb tasks, and file those away, instead of that form in triplicate.   

 

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