A Look Back at Hotels, Waste, and Lean Concepts

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Facebook reminded me the other day of a funny thing I found in a hotel four years ago. It still made me chuckle, so I shared it on LinkedIn:

The idea of a bar of soap with a hole in it and a box with a matching hole in still seems like an exercise in overdesign.

As Kevin Meyer pointed out on Twitter, why does “green” soap have unnecessary packaging?

Well, the hole reduces the amount of paper :-)

It seems like there are tradeoffs. I was confused, as a customer, thinking it was an empty box. It seems like they could just provide a smaller bar of soap, without a hole, which requires a smaller box. Is the box recycled? Maybe a refillable pump dispenser on the wall is the least-waste way to go? I often use a tiny bar of soap once and the rest goes to waste because I check out or, worse, the hotel housekeeping throws it away even though I'm still in the hotel.

I wrote about that “thrown away soap” problem way back in 2007:

Hotel Housekeeping Overprocessing, Waste, and Customer Annoyance

Here are some other past blog posts about hotels, Lean, and waste:

A Hotel, Time Quotas, Systemic Problems, and Employees Not Having the Right Tools

Like Lean: Hotels Involve Customers ala “Lean Design”

Error Proofing the Hotel TV

Materials 5S at a Hotel

Who Is Making Sure Things Work?

These Two Things Are Designed Badly, But Nobody Gets Hurt…

5S the Coffee Pots

What sorts of things do you see in hotels? Good examples of Lean or “Like Lean” practice? Waste and annoyance?


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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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