The Power of Duct Tape, Bubble Gum and Shoe Laces

Continuous Improvement is by definition “continuous” and most improvement requires physical change on the shop floor. Reports may need run and a few forms created, but real change that effects the bottom line takes place on the shop floor or where the value is created.

Work Class organizations are relentless at pursuing these changes and work hard every hour of every day to continuously make meaningful change on the shop floor. Often, this kind of change comes in the form of Duct Tape, Bubble Gum and Shoe Laces.

The Value of Quick Change on the Shop Floor

An extrusion facility had several racks long sticks of extrusions show up in their packing department ready to pack for shipments. One of the supervisors had an idea to create a report to that would list all of the racks that needed shipped in sequence and have the packers follow the list. An IT request was put in and weeks later the bugs were still being worked out, while the packers hunted for racks to pack.

Another supervisor thought a visual board with all of the orders listed with dry erase markers would be a tool that everyone could see and use. The idea was to create a community of people all working from the same list. A work order was put in with facilities maintenance to build the board and weeks later the wrong size dry erase board showed up and maintenance had to send it back while packers hunted for racks to pack.

One packer in the area grabbed two old tripods from a left over kaizen event, dusted them off and put cardboard on the front. To that, she attached printouts of each of orders that would ship the following day. The supervisor was able to rearrange them according to how the racks were stacked. Starting with the first order on the top of the rack stack.

The packers pulled the orders off the cardboard display, packed them, and turned in the sheet the supervisor and no one was hunting for racks.

The Risk of Quick Change on the Shop Floor

At the same extrusion facility, one of the long time shipping team members saw what was being done in packing and said that won’t work. He went on to explain; “we had the very same thing in shipping 2 years ago.”

Sure enough, in the corner of the loading dock was a cardboard cutout that was taped to a few 2 x 4 pieces of lumber. The cardboard was ripped, the few remaining alligator clips were bent and wood had cracked.

The shipping team member explained that management didn’t really see any value. The reality was that leadership did see the value, but they never invested the time to legitimize the process. They never took the process from Duct Tape, Bubble Gum and Shoe Laces to something more permanent.

Help your organization see the power of quick change on the shop floor, where the value is created and remind them to make it permanent when it works!

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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