By November 23, 2007 2 Comments Read More →

Following Rules or Doing What Works?

UPS Reducing Driving Waste

I got a comment on a post from April, about UPS developing efficient driving routes, including the guideline of avoiding left turns to save time. The commentor, purportedly a UPS driver himself, wrote:

“Yeah well, it may save time in one sense but I still think it is faster driving straight. The system is not that smart so you end up delivering two blocks, make a right, deliver two blocks, make a right, etc… Too many right turns if you ask me and people in the neighborhood think we are lost, driving in circles. When I do it my way, I drive less miles and that is cheaper for UPS.”

That raises a question I find fascinating: Is it better to have people following the rules or to do what works? The driver is talking about driving less, saving gas, but is he also considering time? I’m not saying he’s wrong, I don’t know, I’m not there.

It makes me think back to the principles of Standardized Work that say we’re not trying to create unthinking robots who just follow our standard practices. Standardized Work should be followed unless there is a good reason, right? The challenge is getting agreement on what the “good reasons” might be. It can’t be used as an excuse to not follow the Standardized Work, to say we always have good reasons.

The same question comes up quite often in hospitals, as well. We’re not doing the same 45 second Toyota assembly line job over and over, so we need some leeway to use judgment in deciding exactly how we do the work, at times, that’s what people will say.

From my perspective, I would be happy that a driver is “breaking the rules” to save money for the company, at least in this case. Speeding or breaking the law would obviously NOT be a good violation of the Standardized Work.

Please check out my main blog page at www.leanblog.org

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author’s copyright.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to post a comment. Click here to receive posts via email.


Now Available – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can buy the book today, including signed copies from the author.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Please consider leaving a comment or sharing this post via social media.

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 eBook 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.

Posted in: Blog

2 Comments on "Following Rules or Doing What Works?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dick Kusleika says:

    The problem is that this UPS driver may not understand all of the costs involved. Anyone can optimize a system for one cost. It’s a manager’s responsibility to optimize for all costs.

    This guy should take his proposed standard work to his manager. He will either learn something that he hadn’t considered, or they can implement this better SW company-wide.

  2. Mark Graban says:

    Dick, those are two fantastic points!!

Post a Comment