I watched Sherlock Holmes recently. I noted that he had an unbelievable ability to see details that helped lead him to the solution of the crimes. That ability to see is vital for process and productivity improvement. Seeing waste is the first step to eliminating it, and believe it or not, that is one of the weakest capabilities I find in many operations environments. People get so focused on the work at hand, that they don’t see the waste that has developed over time. It is like the infamous boiled frog that did not feel the heat coming up because it was so slow. Unfortunately, the waste that develops over time can be so great that it eventually will pull the company down either through poor cost/cash flow management or through service/quality failures.
Take the time to see. Go stand in the middle of the operations, where the action is, and look for the waste. You may not notice immediately, but soon it comes in to focus. You may find low hanging fruit, or so much of it that it might as well be laying on the ground, waiting to simply be picked up.
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