At Cisco Live US 2018, attendees could volunteer to support an effort known as "Clean the World". Volunteers would create support packages for the world community where sanitation is poor or nonexistent. I always volunteer for things like this because it is good for humanity and doesn't take much time.

We assembled two separate products. One was a generic hygiene kit with soap, shampoo, washclothes, a comb, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. The other was a female-specific package that had fewer washcloths but added sanitary pads. Both were packed into 1 gallon zip-top plastic bags for delivery. Volunteers were to walk down a row of tables, collecting the required quantities of each item from bins, then place them into the bags. At the end of the line, the bag was placed into a large cardboard box.

Turnout was great and I enjoyed myself. I quickly became dismayed, though, at the "large batch" mindset of some voluneers. Some individuals were trying to fill 2 or 3 bags at the same time, stopping at each station for at least 2 or 3 times longer than needed. I watched many fumble, drop, and generally struggle to fill their bags this way. As a lean thinker, I only ever filled one bag at a time, and ended up waiting behind the slower "mass producers".

I stayed for about 30 minutes, so I saw peaks and lulls in participation. During a lull, I timed how long it took me to fill one bag. I was able to move so fast that I never even stopped walking while filling the bags. It took me about 10 seconds to fill one bag. I timed some of the faster mass producers filling 2 bags at once, and it took them 23-27 seconds each time. They had to come to a full stop at each bin, pick up more items from each bin, and place them into more bags. They also had to pick up and put down individual bags constantly, slowing them even more. I even saw some people get the quantities wrong because they would put 2 shampoo bottles in one bag and 0 in another, leading to time-consuming rework. I hope it is clear that filling 1 bag every 10 seconds versus 2 bags every 23 seconds (at best) is unquestionably the better way to produce.

Now tell me again, why are you multitasking at work? Why are you doing 6 months of development and then testing/integrating at the very end? Why are you copy/pasting massive "spray and pray" router configs into the shell? Start thinking about maintaining a smooth delivery flow and it will change your life.

All Blogs -- Main Page