And You Had a Bad Day?


Urban Legends Reference Pages: Tapioca Time Bomb

This is a true story and a funny one that almost defies belief. Imagine it is 1972 and you are moving a literal boatload of tapioca and some wood on board catches fire. You dock the ship in Wales to try to get the fire put out. Talk about a “burning platform!”

Unfortunately… the heat from the timber fire, combined with the extinguishing water sprayed on it (which seeped down to the lower holds), proceeded to cook the tapioca. The mass of tapioca — enough to make hundreds of thousands of plates of pudding — started to expand as it reached its boiling point, threatening to buckle the ship's steel plating before it could be offloaded from the hold.

Wouldn't that be a fun “FMEA” exercise? What are the odds that the ship will catch fire? What's the severity? Oh, the tapioca might cook and expand, threatening the ship? No way. Get out. So, if you've had a tough challenging day, at least you don't have a ship full of cooked tapioca to deal with! How would you have error proofed that?

Gotta love If you're ever wondering about what sounds like an urban legend, they usually have the answer.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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