Thursday, December 14, 2006

"But I can't reach the kanban rack!"

“But I can’t reach the Kanban rack!”


In our Kaizen event earlier this morning, the team was clicking, creating some visible tools to manage a process that, due to its technical requirements, happens out of sight. The tools were wonderfully clear and simple, flowing from the team, implementable with electrical tape and magnetic clips.

With one exception.

One of our associates, a quiet woman of small stature, pointed out our initial proposed location of the kanban rack made for a difficult reach for her. I looked at the rest of our team…she was the only “vertically challenged” member of this particular kaizen team. Yet, without her comment, we would have plunked the rack 6-10 inches higher than where it ultimately landed.

Is 6-10 inches a big deal? Yes, it is, if it makes it difficult for an associate to do standard work easily or it adds a silly annoyance. And, had we not had a representative kaizen team, all of us taller members would have missed this.

Small things matter.

1 comment:

Karen Wilhelm said...

As a person who can never reach the higher racks at the store and who has to stand on a chair to get dishes off the higher shelves in my kitchen, I know what it's like to have things out of reach. You stand on tiptoe, try to stretch your arm as far as possible, and try to nudge things along with your fingertips. Maybe it's good exercise, but slow and annoying. Then think what it would be like if you were employing someone who used a wheelchair. In current parlance, it's a matter of thinking about "universal accessible design" in every process. Article from me on the subject coming up in AME's Target magazine sometime next year.