C’mon Man! Let’s Get It Right!

It was a beautiful day last spring.  Winter seemed to still have it’s grip on Chicago but much nicer days were in the forecast while heading south.  I was on my way to work with a client and had just landed at an older yet efficient airport.  I wanted to quickly get a rental car and enjoy the sunshine while making the two-hour drive through the Texas countryside to the plant.  First things first though, a stop in the men’s room was in order.  I entered the facilities only to find a disappointing solution to what apparently is a common problem.

There were several of these signs in this rest room.  Each of these signs were placed near plumbing that clearly leaked on an intermittent basis.  There were drains with the evidence of leaks over the years below the plumbing.

I’d have to say that this is not a Lean solution to the problem.  The location and permanent nature of the signage would make them completely ineffective if they were intended to warn people when the floor had been recently mopped and still wet.  Instead, these signs say, “We are unable or unwilling to fix these leaks or possibly just are not confident that the repairs will last.”

These guys did not find or address the true root cause.  The signs themselves didn’t even treat the problem at all except to put the onus on the flyer (i.e. the customer) to deal with it.  This isn’t a highly complex issue but it illustrates how we can miss the mark if we are not careful.

The bottom line is to get it right.  Lean Leaders need work with their teams to find the root cause(s) of the issue and to find effective countermeasures.  Tools like the Cause & Effect Diagram and the 5-Why Root Cause Analysis are helpful.

Do you see other problems with this kind of solution?  Can you think of examples were the root cause was not identified or the countermeasure didn’t really work?  What goes wrong when a 5-Why Analysis doesn’t work?


Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article.  You can check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there as well.  Your feedback is appreciated.


About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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