Sometimes it is a struggle to develop a new topic to include in association newsletters. Add to that, a highly fluctuating travel schedule, and there are issues where I unfortunately fail to deliver content. I really appreciate all of the region's newsletter editors patience with me, and feedback I get from members regarding my content. The topic for this article was born on Thanksgiving Day. It gives you a little look at how I tick, and the thoughts on overall team efficiency. It is a rant with a message that hopefully you will find useful.
My wife and I make a good team. She is a middle school special education teacher who relies heavily on structure to function personally and professionally. She plans and makes lists. We work well together because I can read and follow lists. We share most family duties including cooking. When it comes to large functions it is my kitchen and her support role is critical to get things from the oven to the table. It’s a good team approach.
We hosted Thanksgiving which was planned for twelve. Two backed out last minute, causing angst for the planner. The missing mouths led to more uneaten food than expected. That caused me strife because it exposed an inefficiency that flat drives me nuts!
I fear the cabinet that holds our food storage containers. In my humble opinion, nothing ruins a wonderful meal like struggling to find a lid to match the container I just placed the leftovers in. For some strange reason, it happens to me every time! My teammate (wife) sees no issues with the current setup. So, as a superintendent, I stated my case regarding this perceived inefficiency in real-life research based scientific format. I dismantled the cabinet and counted everything to see if my perception met reality. Here is what I found:
Those numbers were closer than I expected, but I was undeterred. I then paired up the lids to match the containers:
- 43 containers with matching lids
- 6 containers with no lid
- 11 lids that fit no container
- 1 cracked container that had a lid (a refrigerator cleaning waiting to happen)
- 1 container with a broken lid
So even I would consider the numerical results a bit disappointing. I had honestly figured there would have been a much larger disparity. But as often happens with good research, I wanted to add an additional layer of inquiry. Of the 43 containers with matching lids, there were 17 different brands in the sample. That means there is a 40% chance the lid I would select would not match the container to begin with regardless of similarities!
Now picture the table covered with your irrigation parts, spare equipment items, or even the small tool area. Shop makeovers are not easy. Parting with pieces that may be useful can lead to future expense and increased downtime. Neither situation is desirable. However, ensuring the items are still viable, well-marked, and in working order can increase the efficiency you and your team must rely on in the critical moment of need. If you aren’t specifically responsible for the inventory, be sure to engage your staff and ask how they would streamline their process.
My research led to a positive result in my household. I threw away what didn’t match while my wife was at work. I’ll pay for that later. If my employer finds out I cleaned out my container cabinet during work hours I might get in a little trouble for that too. While it was done in the name of pure scientific research in order to accomplish a business-related task, please don’t tell them just in case.
Enacting small changes like these can take a prohibitively long time to achieve. However, if an equipment manager can immediately grab the exact belt he needs, or an irrigation technician easily communicating from the field the correct part needed for a repair to a fellow staff member leads to a faster more effective process, that would be a massive benefit every time. Engaging the staff for feedback could be a motivating factor, it might also remove some frustration from those responsible for their areas of expertise. More engagement, less stress, and more efficient sounds like a winning combination to me.