Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kaizen in the Dark

The windy city, Chicago, turned into a blowing, wet, snowy mess today. It was quite a shock to my body after spending last week working in sunny, warm Mexico. Towards the end of my morning lean training session, the power went out. Luckily, I just finished the PowerPoint part of the session but that left us in the dark to continue our lesson.

As we continued working with just a small amount of light from the hallway windows, all the office employees began to congregate in the hallway. Without power for their computers or light to see in their windowless cubicles, they could not work. The same went for the shop floor employees. It is amazing to see the power of technology abruptly halted by the simple lack of electricity.

But this post is not about the impact electricity has on our productivity. It is about the hidden opportunity this power outage provided us for kaizen. We learned which emergency exit signs failed to light along with a couple of failed emergency flood lights. It was easy to see (or not see) where new emergency lights would be helpful. Several employees suggested having rechargeable flashlights strategically placed in the facility. Another employee questioned our procedure for testing the emergency lights and how we might have prevented the problem. Before we knew it, we were starting a kaizen list with our new point of view! Even in the dark, or in this case because of the dark, we found ideas for improvement and an opportunity to learn.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting account Mike! It's usually during emergencies or any unexpected shutdowns that we are forced to do some checking or troubleshooting measures.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent example. It's amazing how our worldview changes when the environment changes, but the principles remain, which can be applied to almost any environment -- even environments where electricity isn't present.

Anonymous said...

Your wits don't work until you feel the squeeze.