Dinner at my house consisted of calling the local pizza guy last night. It was not planned that way, but the product of my hour in the kitchen turned out to be unfit for human consumption. It should have been simple. The recipe was clear enough – only I didn’t read it until after the fact when I was trying to figure out what I did wrong.
It occurred to me that I might be the prototypical male. I have driven miles out of my way – numerous times – when asking for directions would have been easy enough, or better yet, simply taking a map out of the glove compartment.
Men involved in manufacturing seem to be particularly averse to reading directions. When my kids were small, they surely thought that Santa Claus and his elves were a bunch of fumble-fingered morons when they surveyed the results of my all night sessions with toys marked "some assembly required". (In my defense, I usually did get around to reading the directions when things got bad enough, but there was usually a bottle of Christmas cheer around which interfered with my comprehension.)
I know that I am not alone in these character traits. It came to me that perhaps the difficulty many companies have with becoming lean is having guys like me in positions of responsibility. We are given a copy of Shingo’s book, glance at the front cover, read the interesting stuff on the back, thumb through a few pages and say, "Got it," then charge out into the plant to straighten everything out.
Somehow the women in my life seem to be able to read recipes and directions, or ask some guy how to get to the freeway, without feeling that it indicates a lack of intelligence or ability. In any event, a grim realization came to me last night. Because my ego would not permit me to concede that the guy on the Food Network knows more than me about anything, I ended up demonstrating that, without the kid from the pizza place, I would starve to death.
In any event, I am presenting at the Lean Accounting Summit in Dearborn, Michigan next month and was given a copy of the list of attendees. I see it as very good news for the manufacturing community that nearly half of the attendees are women. If this indicates a trend – that women are kicking us out and taking charge of the lean manufacturing effort – I believe it bodes very well for America.