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Lean and the News

(Plus a contest!)

The more I read about problems that companies and other organizations encounter, the more I believe that Lean is the answer.

As I write this, one of the stories in the current news cycle is about how a man was able to walk into a terminal at Newark airport by going the wrong way through a guarded exit. Mark Graban wrote an interesting article on LeanBlog.org that addressed the issue of how the person on duty received blame for the incident. To summarize, he points out how unfair it is to require an individual to be completely error free without the benefit of any sort of error-proofing system.

It turns out that there’s more to this story (or this one). Apparently, the video cameras of the area could display the image, but couldn’t record, and had not been able to for nearly a week. When the incident happened, there was a delay of a few hours while the authorities had to track down recordings from one of the airlines. The story goes on to say that there was a disagreement over who was responsible for fixing the problem-the TSA or the Port Authority.

I’ll refrain from piling on-there is sufficient scrutiny on the leaders of those organizations because of this (and other recent incidents) that I doubt they are sleeping well right now.

But the thing that jumped to mind was how a good Total Productive Maintenance system would have helped resolve this situation much faster. It would likely have clearly spelled out the process to fix the recorders, and would almost certainly not let a critical device remain sidelined over an alleged turf war. TPM might even have prevented the problem in the first place, assuming that the system failure could have been diagnosed or if there had been redundancy built in.

Of course, Lean is not perfect, but time and time again I am amazed at how often some Lean tool or other could have kept a story out of the news.

Let’s try this out-I’ll send a free copy of my Structuring Standard Work tutorial to whoever posts a comment with the best application of a Lean tool, principle, or system to a news story. You know what…I’ll even throw in my Continuous Improvement Companion’s Lean audio training starter kit bundle.

Ground rules:

  1. I am the sole judge of the winner.
  2. The contest ends at 3:57 PM Pacific time on Jan 20, 2010.
  3. I get to make up rules as I go.

 Let’s see how all of you think…

 

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One Comment

  • Evan Durant says:

    At the risk of being political, perhaps the democratic party could use some Voice of the Customer training. Losing the Massachusetts senate seat they held for 47 years suggests a certain lack of understanding of their customers’ needs. I think a well-constructed CTQ tree might have been an excellent aid to the Coakley campaign.

    In the wake of the loss, of course, some effective root cause analysis should be in order. I would get the strategists together in a room and do a good 5-Why exercise. I won’t speculate as to where that might lead, but I’d hope for some substantive countermeasures as a result.

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