I was just winding down watching some TV on a Sunday night, and it struck me that a lot of people are Lean without even realizing it.
To be fair, I have a rather broad definition of Lean. I basically use it interchangeably with “continuous improvement“-constantly doing more with less. So in that sense, most companies are Lean to some degree.
Case in point-Dateline did a piece on fraud in the Lottery. The focus was on retailers, but they also showed a glimpse of how California’s lottery runs its operations. Several times, the person being interviewed mentioned that trust was critical to selling tickets.
One of the ways they kept that trust was through rigorous maintainance of the lottery balls. On a regular basis, they clean and inspect the balls, then weigh them. According to the official, the tolerance is down to the thousandth of a gram.
They also used a gauge like the one in this picture. Many of you will recognize it as a type of Go/No-Go gauge. The ball should pass through the bigger hole, but not the smaller one. This confirms that the ball falls into a specific range of sizes. (Let’s not get into a discussion about the accuracy and upkeep of the Go/No-Go gauge!)
Gauge (Go/No-Go) for Lottery Balls
Of course, a poka yoke would be better-one that kept problem balls from even getting into the hopper-but in the absence of mistake proofing, this go/no-go gauge is a good alternative.
Prescribed maintenance interval. Well-defined maintenance steps. Focus on keeping the equipment delivering top-notch results. Sounds a lot like TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) to me. (Check out this great little book on TPM that’s an easy read if you want to learn more.)
So, the next time you decide to buy a lottery ticket, you can rest assured that the one-in-a-couple-of-million chance you have at winning is not going to be affected by a ding or a smudge on one of the balls.
Have a great week. And good luck with that lottery ticket.
I encourage you to follow the links in the article and on the related posts at the bottom, but if you want another person’s perspective on this topic, check out this article on mistake proofing by Darren Dolcemascolo.