That may quite possibly be the most annoying phrase in the English language, especially in a manufacturing setting. If you’ve ever tried to get people to work differently then you’ve most likely heard that phrase before, a lot. And it isn’t just the front line folks either, I’ve heard it said by managers and presidents. The natural response to, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” is, “So what?” but that isn’t very helpful either. It’s important to keep in mind that doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault; the institutionalized methods of doing a job are passed down in what is assumed to be the correct way of doing things and are so ingrained in an organization that they aren’t seriously considered and are quite literally done unthinkingly.

But Prometheus outwitted him and stole the far-seen gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow fennel stalk. And Zeus who thunders on high was stung in spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he saw amongst men the far-seen ray of fire. Forthwith he made an evil thing for men as the price of fire.

-Hesiod. The Theogony

We all know, or at least have been repeatedly told, that greed is the prime human motivator. That if it wasn’t for our lust for money then no one would ever do anything, and we certainly would not do anything for anyone else without our own monetary benefits being our primary concern. Hopefully you aren’t so cynical as to believe that and if you have any familiarity with Lean then I suspect you are beginning to realize (if you didn’t already know) that there is much more to things than just money; there’s a sense of purpose and accomplishment, pride and a desire to improve, respect and humility and much more.

I came across this video the other day:

There are two recent news events that highlight the need for maintaining a safe workplace, Bumble Bee Tuna and Blue Bell Ice Cream.

I have two brooms. They came in a pack together and I bought them when I moved into my house. They are the same length but one has a large broomhead and the other has a smaller head and they came with a dustpan. To try and make my life easier the broom company made the broomstick on the larger broom and the handle of the dustpan the same diameter and the dustpan clips to the broomstick so it's easier to carry around the house. But the diameter of the smaller broom, the one I'm more likely to use to sweep a pile of dust into the dustpan, is too small for the dustpan to clip to. Why didn't the broom company make both broomsticks the same diameter? 

So Microsoft has finished the last of its rounds of planned layoffs in its restructuring effort, 18,000 employees in total, about 14% of Microsoft’s workforce. The planned layoffs were announced last year after Microsoft acquired Nokia and the cuts apply mostly to Nokia factory workers as well as Microsoft IT staff. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, justified the layoffs as “…flattening organizations and increasing the span of control of people managers. In addition, our business processes and support models will be more lean and efficient with greater trust between teams. The overall result of these changes will be more productive, impactful teams across Microsoft”.

A few things:

My Forty Years with Ford by Charles Sorensen is a must read for anyone who is interested in learning about the early days of the Ford Motor Company and the very beginnings of Lean thinking. Charles Sorensen was with Henry Ford from the very beginning of the Ford Motor Company until nearly the end of World War II and shortly before Ford’s death in 1947.