Leading Lean: Question Everything!


Jamie Flinchbaugh has a new “Leading Lean” column in assembly magazine. Here’s a great story, an example of “because we’ve always done it” waste.

“One of the most remarkable examples was a manufacturing company that was finally getting rid of standard paper time cards. In examining their time cards, the question kept coming up, “What does the ARS column stand for?” For years, new employees had been taught to put a zero in the ARS column on their time cards. So week after week, every person accounted for zero hours of time in the ARS column, but no one could remember what ARS meant. It finally came out that ARS meant air raid siren. During World War II, when the air raid sirens sounded an air raid warning, the employees went into the basement for safety. The company naturally wanted to track time lost due to air raid warnings. Although time cards had been reprinted, and even redesigned, the ARS column remained because no one questioned it. If you think this kind of thing isn’t happening in your company, think again.”

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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