“Water Hose” Solutions

I was listening to a guy talking about making cities better. He was describing how cities let big things sometimes get in the way of getting anything done.

This was the example. Kids like playing in spraying water, especially when it’s hot. We’ve seen the spraying water systems. Amusement parks have them. Expensive parks have them. The systems are cool. Well plumbed. Sometimes have colored lights to make them look cooler still. Expensive to be installed and to be maintained, sometimes parks do without sprayed water because there is no money.

Along comes the “water hose” solution. From time to time, when money is short or decision making is delayed, folks come up with the “water hoses.” Hook up the water hoses when it’s hot, turn them on and let the kids play. System isn’t so grand. A bit awkward to implement because it’s not permanent. But, it accomplishes the task.

I am guessing sometimes we don’t do things because money is limited, decisions are slow or concepts are unproven. Sometimes our folks don’t let that stop them.

In Bartow recently, a saw system threw off so much sawdust that it slowed production and caused frequent stoppages for cleanup. One of our operators, Ignacio Cuevas, started thinking about the saw.

He noticed much of the sawdust came through some openings around the out feed. He reasoned that if we could guard that opening differently, we could cut back on spilled sawdust. Downtime would be lessened.

He wanted to try his assumption out. He took cardboard, cut it to size, fit it around the opening and it achieved the results he was trying to prove.

He didn’t ask permission. He didn’t spend any money. He just thought about a hassle, used his knowledge to come up with a potential fix and tried it.

Now, a more permanent solution is in the works. “Lean” involves us identifying hassles, conceiving potential solutions and arriving at ways to make it better. When we can’t afford them, we try alternatives that improve things.

I believe in solutions whether they are “cardboard” or “water hoses.” Keep trying. Keep inventing. That’s what “lean” is about.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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