Would you like another illustration of Value-Added vs Non-Value-Added time? Do you like football? Do you make fun of people who like football?
If yes to any of the above, this is for you.
In the Friday, January 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal, David Biderman wrote a most entertaining article "11 Minutes of Action" . In short, a group of WSJ folks timed, frame by frame, broadcasts of four late-season National Football League games. They measured a mere 11 minutes of actual action in each broadcast. There was 174 minutes of non-action! Yes, that means only 11 of a total of 185 minutes actually showed the ball in play...5.9%.
And what filled up the rest of the time?? A full hour of the broadcast was commercials. 74 minutes showed players standing around. Surprisingly to me, only 17 minutes showed replays...yet even that was 6 minutes more than the actual live action.
What is the cost for filling all the rest of the time? According to the article, the networks employ 80-200 people for each game, flowing the broadcast through seven (yep, seven!) production trucks. Total production cost?? $150,000 to $250,000 per game.
As we have learned since Rother and Shook wrote Learning to See, it is crucial for us to measure how much time a production process adds value to our products, actually modifying and transforming raw materials into something for which the customer is willing to pay. And, when we make this measurement, we are invariably shocked at just how little time adds value. In fact, by most manufacturing measures, a football broadcast adding value 5.9% of the time is way above average. Often, the proportion is measured in fractions of a percentage point.
Measure we must, however. And assess the cost of the non-value added time. If the non-value added time triggers costs (read: lots of fancy graphics to fill the dead time between plays), we'd better know those costs.
And don't laugh too hard at the NFL. As I was chuckling while reading this article for the first time, my wife wryly asked me just how I would feel had the WSJ done a similar study of my beloved sport of baseball. Ouch.
Keep on learning. Even if it is third and long.