We heard of this story this week – a wonderful example of over-engineering a solution (excuse the pun) when your workforce may know an easier fix all along.
A toothpaste factory had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty boxes without the tube inside. This challenged their perceived quality with the buyers and distributors. Understanding how important the relationship with them was, the CEO of the company assembled his top people. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem. The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, and third-parties selected. Six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, and high quality. Everyone in the project was pleased.
They solved the problem by using a high-tech precision scale that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and then press another button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes were being shipped out of the factory.
With no more customer complaints, the CEO felt the $8 million was well spent. He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections, however, the next three weeks were zero!
The estimated rate should have been at least a dozen boxes a day. He had the engineers check the equipment, they verified the report as accurate.
Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory, viewed the part of the line where the precision scale was installed, and observed just ahead of the new $8 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. He asked the line supervisor what that was about.
“Oh, that,” the supervisor replied, “Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang.”
So the call to action is – always involve your teams in creating solutions to your customer and service issues.
Do you have similar stories to share with us? Reply to this and share your experiences….
Download Our Brochure
- It’s A Question Of Trust6th May 2022 - 11:00 am
Trust is a fundamental building block for effective business relationships with employees and customers. In his acclaimed book The Culture Code¹, Daniel Coyle identifies 3 common characteristics that define high-performance teams in the workplace…
- The One Question Few Can Answer22nd April 2022 - 1:23 pm
From time to time, you read journalist interviews with chief executives who proudly say something along the lines of: “Our goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations.”
If one of them says this to me, my response is usually: “Terrific, well done. What are those expectations?” And 90% of the time I get a blank look in reply. The chief executive concerned doesn’t know!…
- Maximising Value and ROI from Data18th March 2022 - 9:46 am
We’re informed incessantly that the future will be “data-driven” and that businesses lacking data will be at a competitive disadvantage. Whilst that may be broadly true, for an organisation to derive value from data there are many obstacles to be overcome for the data to be insightful, actionable and used for decision making…