Funny Example of Overprocessing?


As I'm sort of watching the Orange Bowl (it's really just on in the background), a funny ad caught my eye. A guy comes into a [copy shop] and asks for color copies of a stack of documents. The employee points out that they are black and white documents, so shouldn't she just use that copier? No, the boss asked for color copies, the guy says. The employee says, “but they won't be color…” and the guy (now proven to be a moron) says, “But they will if they're done on the color copier.”

“OK, so I'll just make black and white copies.”

“Why, is the color copier broken?”

So it's not exactly Laurel & Hardy, but still, it gave me a new example to use… using a color copier to duplicate a black and white document could very well be an example of the “waste of overprocessing.”


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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.


  1. Ha! I saw that same ad and was wondering about it as well, but from a different standpoint. A guy I work with is color blind, so we’ve been careful with (or outright removing) color from some presentations. Turns out limiting presentations to two colors (or black/white/grayscale) forces us to be simpler, which is a good thing.

  2. Kevin has a good point about the perception of importance through color.

    I recall a co-worker being admonished by a consultant for using color to convey meaning in a document.

    Closer to home, I still perceive 80 character text data displayed in monochrome to be more ‘important’ than the 64 million color monitors we use today. Perhaps Kevin is on to something with the limitations on color.


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