C’mon! Fix it Right.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Image courtesy Julius Schorzman via Wikipedia

One of my clients has some great perks, even for those of us who are not full-time staff. I really enjoy the hot cup of tea that I can get after a few hours on the production floor. They provide a good cup of coffee as well.

I noticed a peculiar sight at the coffee station not too long ago. The coffee was running down the side of the pot and onto the counter. Someone had put some paper towels there to contain the mess. My first thought was how could this be over-filling? Can they add too much water? Clearly whoever put the paper towels there was unable to correct the issue, right? Then I though, surely it’s not just an alignment issue is it? Just as I looked closer at the top of the pot, one of the plant mechanics reached over with one finger to push the pot into its cradle. I said, “It can’t be that simple, can it?” The mechanic, who was a little less analytical and quicker to action, replied with something like, “Let’s see”. To our amazement, the problem was solved.  The pot had not been placed properly into its position, which resulted in the mess on the counter.

The amazing part was that someone jumped to a solution that really was just a Band-Aide.  Who knows if they even thought they knew what caused the mess?  A simple investigation revealed the real issue and an easy solution.

Maybe a superficial solution isn’t really all that amazing after all. How many times have we all seen someone who knew the solution and rolled it out without really getting to the root cause? People are often pressed for time and don’t go deeper even when they know they should. Another trap is to solve the issue without going to the scene to witness it firsthand.

We all have to prioritize and we won’t solve everything today. Yet, Lean Leaders fix it right. What reasons have you seen for inadequate solutions? There is more than your morning cup of coffee at stake.


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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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2 Responses to C’mon! Fix it Right.

  1. Greg Steggerda says:

    Chris, what a great story. I see variations of this all the time in my plants and DCs. Sometimes it’s “not my problem,” sometimes “I don’t know what to do,” sometimes just laziness. Hard to put too much value on an employee’s desire to have things right.

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