One of my favorite weblogs lately is Mark Hurst’s This Is Broken. Almost every day he posts photos of "broken" signs, processes, designs, and service. Most are not directly related to manufacturing, but they are situations that often occur in our operations.
For example, how many of us deal with counterintuitive process instructions? Mike Woblewski’s Got Boondoggle blog has had an excellent series on creating good work instructions, and organizing instructions in a logical format is critical. A recent post on This Is Broken has an example of another document that is not entirely intuitive.
How often do we just put up confusing explanatory (or apologetic) signs instead of simply fixing the problem? Here’s an example. Be sure to read some of the comments in response to that post… these are non-manufacturing (presumably) people who are thinking like us! And we all have run into problems with product design similar to this. And how about a problem with too much customer service… or at least driven by the wrong incentives… as this post describes. Again, read the comments.
We’ve all stood in lines at the bank, McDonald’s, or the DMV where the lean manufacturer genie in us began dreaming up (often during impatient fits of frustration and anger) process improvements. How many of us have considered writing a booklet on "5S for the Home" to give to our spouse… and then decided better of it?
The potential for waste reduction and process improvement exists everywhere… not just in manufacturing.