Thursday, July 10, 2003

Stumbling over Broken Paradigms

Reader Karen Wilhelm, the Senior Editor of Lean Directions, a publication of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers responded to my recent post on "Gee, that seems stupid" with a wonderful story from a recent trip to England. She gave me permission to reprint it here.
Last week I was reading the introduction to the new edition of "Lean Thinking" by Dan Jones and Jim Womack, where they discussed how NOT lean the airlines can be.

I had just come back from vacation in Scotland, Ireland and England. RyanAir, the low cost airline offered an irresistible price of GBP 29.99 to go from Scotland to Ireland. Prices can be as low as GBP 1.00 depending on the time of day you travel. How do they do it? Among other things they have obviously looked closely at cycle time.

The customer (me) wants to get to Ireland at the least cost. RyanAir knows any time spent on the ground is muda. They put you on the plane as soon as they get the last people off it -- no time for dusting, cleaning the coffee pot, etc., but customers like me don't care much on a short flight.

When we started walking across the tarmac to board, we almost stumbled over a broken paradigm. Both the front and back doors of the plane were open! Since we're not using a fancy weather-free jetway, they can shove another set of stairs to the other door of the plane and cut boarding and de-boarding time in half. Don't you wish you could have been at the meeting where someone said, "You know, the plane has TWO doors."

Gee, doesn't it seem stupid to not use both doors of the plane? Yep. And someone with RyanAir figured it out. Karen, thanks for the story. By the way, you can subscribe here to the free e-newsletter which Karen edits.

Karen, thanks as well for the great turn of the phrase "stumble over a broken paradigm"! May we all start tripping regularly!!

I hope this is helpful and that you don't pull your hamstring when you trip on the next broken paradigm you see. Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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