Wednesday, December 11, 2002


I wrote yesterday about the most excellent article by Mark Rosenthal of Genie Industries on the two pillars of Lean(click here to read the article).

As I reread it last night and this morning, I was struck by the simplicity of his four points of implementing the human side of Lean:

  1. Detect the abnormality.
  2. Stop
  3. Fix or correct the immediate condition.
  4. Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure.

We find here that step 2 is the most difficult. Why, we ask, should we stop right in the middle of what we are doing? We won't get it done otherwise! Examples:

  • The work order is incomplete; we start on it anyway
  • We get a request for materials from our warehouse and send it out without the proper paperwork; Hey, the crew needs the material!
  • We schedule a job to start without the local building permit in hand.
  • The teenager reports he is going "out" and is vague about "where"; I don't want to offend, so off he goes.

There is a famous story about Yogi Berra, the bumbling former New York Yankees catcher, who set out to drive to the Baseball Hall of Fame in rural New York state. After driving around, obviously lost, for about two hours, his wife pleaded with him to stop and ask directions. Refusing, Yogi said "I know we are lost, but we are making very good time, I'm not going to stop now!"

I encourage you to find something to say "Stop" to today when you detect an error. Don't continue till you get it right. Until we practice this, it will feel very uncomfortable. But, it will drive quality deeper and deeper when we do so.

I hope this is helpful.

Feel free to forward to a friend.

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