Getting Started

Here’s how to start the storytelling process. Post this story near the time clock (or one of your own):

It was Ernie’s last week of work. My retirement present was to check the rooftop thermometer for him. It was a miserable experience. The access to the roof was on the other side of the plant. The roof was dark with no clear path to the thermometer. A couple times I had to cross a waist high wall. The wind was howling, the roof was slick, and the temperature was below zero. If I had slipped and couldn’t have gotten up, no one would have looked for me before frostbite set in. The last obstacle was a snow drift.

Incredibly, employees have been doing this task six times a day for years without complaining. A stairwell was present on the other side of the wall where the outside thermometer was located. A couple of steps and a door made checking the rooftop thermometer easy. Operators extended their breaks by fifteen minutes to check the rooftop thermometer. Since, a relief operator was needed for breaks and the new door made the long break unnecessary, the new door saved the company $6,000 per year in labor costs and it eliminated a safety hazard!

Ask employees to submit their own lean stories. Post appropriate stories near the time clock.

After a few stories, point out: every story starts with an irritation. For example, Kevin had to walk across the roof in a blizzard! Ask employees to share irritations with their work tasks. “What do you hate to do?”

The most difficult part of kaizen is finding a problem. Once the problem is identified, finding a solution is relatively easy. Since irritations signal a problem is present, sharing irritations highlights problems.

Most irritations will be eliminated by retraining. Some will provide opportunities for improvement. These will be posted as the beginnings of future stories. For example, using the above example,

It was Ernie’s last week of work. My retirement present was to check the rooftop thermometer for him. It was a miserable experience. The access to the roof was on the other side of the plant. The roof was dark with no clear path to the thermometer. A couple times I had to cross a waist high wall. The wind was howling, the roof was slick, and the temperature was below zero. If I had slipped and couldn’t have gotten up, no one would have looked for me before frostbite set in. The last obstacle was a snow drift.

 

How does this story end?

 

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