I get a lot of email every day. Most of it is work related; and quite a bit of it is truly inspirational. It certainly restores my faith in humanity to realize how many complete strangers have such deep concern for my hair loss, weight gain and the quality of my sex life, that they go to extraordinary measures to seek out my email address and suggest incredibly creative ideas to improve the quality of my life. It is nothing short of inspirational to be the recipient of such selfless expressions of concern. And then there are the emails I get on a routine basis from your brother-in-law. You know – the one that sits in his cubicle all day surfing the internet, receiving and mass forwarding stupid jokes to people he has never met, like me.
One such joke came across my screen the other day and, while it barely qualifies as humor, it struck me as a pretty good lean message, so I thought I’d pass it along. (If your name happens to actually be ‘Bubba’, please do not take offense at me – I don’t write ’em – talk to your brother-in-law about it.)
Bubba went to a psychiatrist. " I’ve got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there’s somebody under it. I’m scared. I think I’m going crazy."
"Just put yourself in my hands for one year," said the shrink. "Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears.
"How much is it going to cost me?" asked Bubba
"Eighty dollars per visit, replied the doctor."
"I’ll sleep on it," said Bubba.
Six months later the doctor met Bubba on the street. "Why didn’t you ever come to see me about those fears you were having?" asked the psychiatrist.
"Well Eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!"
"Is that so! And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?" inquired the psychiatrist.
"He told me to cut the legs off the bed! – Ain’t nobody under there now !!!"
The lean parallel, in case the point was not made, was that the simple, common sense solution should be tried first. Now, had Bubba sawed off the legs of the bed yet still believed there was something under it, the $80 three times a week for psychiatric help would have been money well spent.
When Kevin and I rail against big ERP or massive investments in automation (i.e. GM in the 1980’2) we are not suggesting that such grand outlays of scarce cash are never the right thing to do. We are simply pointing out that far too many manufacturers are far too quick to run out and see a shrink three times a week and missing the obvious, cheap solutions that are quite often even more effective than the epic scale investment solutions.