Noun: A person who spends little or no time exercising and a great deal of time watching television.
What can you learn in the Midlands?
I live in the Midlands, We make cars in the Midlands.
A while back I thought I’d go and have a look, see what I could learn from my cultural heritage, so I booked myself onto a couple of factory tours.
My first lesson in efficiency
The first tour was a Jaguar plant in Coventry. It looked pretty much the way you would expect it to look. A big overhead conveyor belt with half built cars gradually crawling along, at every stage bits being added, people scurrying about with equipment and parts, busy as ants.
And there were plenty of cars. Parked all along the interior walls. There is a lot of wall in a factory that size, and every inch had a Jaguar parked next to it, nose to tail, a snake-like traffic jam.
It struck me as a bit odd, so I asked the guide what they were doing there, after all a ¾ built Jag is still worth a fair chunk of change.
He smiled at my naïvety, explaining that it is all important to keep the line running. It gets very expensive very quickly if the line stops . So when there is an issue, the quickest and easiest thing to do is take the problem car off the line then park it against the factory wall to fix later, that way they are sure the line keeps moving.
Obviously the most efficient thing to do.
My second lesson in efficiency
With my knowledge of efficiency deepened I set out on my second tour, this time a Toyota plant near Derby. To my untrained eye it looked pretty much the same, people, parts and equipment, all the same, except for one thing. Unadorned walls; the only cars I could see were the ones moving along the production line.
By now I was a manufacturing genius, so I asked the guide, where are all the half built cars? Surely you have errors, things do go wrong and stopping the line is expensive.
He admitted that it is expensive, and unfortunately they do have errors, so they urge their staff to stop the line the minute something looks wrong. But they don’t take the car off the line, they fix it there and then and make sure it never happens again.
Yes he said, it is painful, yes he said, it is expensive, but a bit of short-term pain is worth the long-term gain.
Couch potato management
The analogy is obvious so I won’t labour it.
- On the one hand, an organisation that takes the quick and easy way out, orders a pizza and sits back to watch TV.
- On the other, a business that takes the pain, fixes the issue, or to stretch the point gets off its backside and starts moving.
The difference? It wasn’t technology or training.
It was all about mindset.
Instant gratification versus long-term gain.
The tragic analogy
Sadly the analogy goes further. Couch potatoes die young.
Four years ago the Jaguar plant closed down. Hundreds of people lost their livelihoods. Apparently it “ceased to be economically viable”.
What is the mindset in your business?
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Image by RubyGoes