Updated: Holy Takt Time!


So I was watching some of the lead in to the Papal Mass in New York's Yankee Stadium. The reporter was talking to a priest about giving the Holy Communion to about 60,000 people within a span of 15 minutes. They chatted about the logistics… talking more about the challenge more so than a precise solution.

My warped Lean mind starts thinking “takt time.” Appropriate, perhaps, since “takt” is a German word and the Pope himself is German.

Takt time is calculated as (Available Time / Demand).

(15 min * 60 sec) / 60,000

That equals 0.015 seconds per Catholic.

Assuming a fast pace and it taking 3 seconds per attendee, they would require 200 priests or laypeople giving communion. We'd calculate that by dividing 3 by 0.015 = 200.

I'm sorry I doubted them, I bet they can pull that off!!

Updated: The NY Times has a helpful graphic about this. They said 530 priests, so it must be more like 7 or 8 seconds per communicant. That's still pretty fast. This article says it took about 30 minutes to actually give communion, so it worked out to more like twice the expected time.

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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. Any word if they pulled that off in 15 minutes or not? I happened to be up in NY on Saturday and I can attest that they probably had plenty more priests than 200 on-hand.

    NY did a great job from police to special services, do you think the Catholic Church picks up the extra overtime cost?

  2. Bob – see above in my updates to the post. It really took 30 minutes and they had 530 priests. My estimates were off. Well, so was their estimate that it would only take 15 minutes!!

  3. It looks like they had the numbers right but if I had to speculate I would say that the layout of Yankee stadium was not as favorable to all that movement going on at one time. Plus given the fact that none of the attendee’s have any experience (if any) at taking communion at a major ballpark.

    I would say they did a fantasitic job even though it took 15 minutes longer.

    This was fun to think about!


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