Since Thanksgiving and other winter holidays are upon us, I thought I’d remind you of a story you may have heard that illustrates an important principle… it’s the story of the Holiday Roast.
The Holiday Roast Story
One Thanksgiving, Wendy was preparing for the big meal, seasoning the roast she was about to place into the oven, when her husband Mark came into the kitchen to help peel potatoes. Wendy was chopping carrots to add to the pan, when Mark noticed something peculiar and asked, “Why did you cut off that chunk of roast?”
“Oh,” Wendy answered, “I don’t know. It’s a family tradition. We always cut the end off of the roast.”
“Hmm, I wonder why,” Mark asked aloud, prompting Wendy to call her mother.
“Mom, why do we cut the end off of the roast?”
“Well, I did it because your grandmother used to do it. I think it makes it more tender,” Wendy’s mother replied, prompting Wendy to call her grandmother.
“Grandma, why do we cut the end off of the roast?”
“Wendy, I don’t know why you do it, but I did it because I was feeding a family of 6 and the roasts we would buy never fit in my baker. I cut off the end so it would.”
The Frankenstein Process
In this story, we see the origination of a tradition, that was built out of a necessity for a single person’s “process”. The next person to observe and learn, simply went through the motions of repeating what they saw, without knowing the “why” behind it. By the time it got to the third person, she took it for what she thought it was – tradition.
This happens all the time in business, and leads to what I call a “Frankenstein process”. Often one person creates or tweaks a process that better fits their needs, and this gets passed on without anyone asking why.
As a lean consultant, it’s part of my job to ask why. Together, we look through what’s working, and what isn’t and follow problematic processes back to the beginning, like Wendy did in the above story. We uncover why something isn’t working, and go back to the roots, so we can address it at that point, making it more effective and efficient going forward.
Wendy’s grandmother came up with a solution, and the solution worked for her, but when a solution begins creating waste, lean methodology dives in and creates a better solution for current productivity – not just what worked in the past. If you frequently say (or hear), “I don’t know, we’ve just always done it that way,” it’s probably a good time for us to chat.
PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Providing consulting and lean process improvement training, we are ready to support your organizational goals. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert.