How much of your work is rework?
After teaching session 9 of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL) up in Mackenzie, B.C., I jumped in my rental car and began the arduous drive to Prince George. I was pushing as aggressively as I could in three inches of swirling light powder snow to make my 20:00 flight to Vancouver, B.C. I stopped at my regular stop, about an hour and 20 minutes into my trip, the Bear Creek gas station / convenience store. I followed my normal routine: grabbed a package of popcorn, stuck it in the microwave, quick-stepped down the hall to the men's room as the popcorn popped, back to the cooler, grabbed a pop. My dinner for the night.
A young man at the checkout was talking to the clerk about the slippery roads, describing the blinding white-outs that the wind whipped up. As it turns out, I had been behind his 18-wheeler for the last fifty or so kilometers. He said something about his truck running light and slipping all over the place. I said, "Well, you're doing a good job." "You've been behind me, aye?" "Yes, I have, and you've been pushing it pretty hard. Good for you." "Well it's not easy when I'm empty. I'm just coming back from Mackenzie and they didn't load me, so I'm running light."
We both zipped up our jackets and headed outdoors in the wind and below zero temperatures. He ran to his truck and I ran to my rental car.
I know how difficult it can be to schedule trucks these days. Transportation is one of the major challenges for many companies, and can be a make-orbreak for a newsprint
Getting the paper transported from the mill to the next staging point, and on to the customer's press room on time is crucial. I thought about the young man's empty truck, then honked my horn a couple of times. He jumped out of his cab and ran over to my car. I said, "What do you mean you're running light? Why didn't they load you?" "I don't know. I was there all afternoon. They couldn't find the paperwork for my load, so I finally told them that I'll go home and come back tomorrow, and it's a 3-hour drive each way."
Wow, what a striking example of rework! I have worked with this mill to help ensure all of their equipment is running at the highest possible efficiency, that pulp is converted to high quality newsprint at the lowest cost with the highest quality product possible. This is a tough job with the beetle kill dry chips they are using. They finally get the paper wound and wrapped in the precise way that satisfies their customer. Because of competitive market pressures, they have to do all of this with fewer resources than ever before, only to find that the paper can't be shipped because someone can't find the paperwork. Yikes!
Before you are too critical of this example, stop and check your own processes. Most rework happens in the office, not on the production floor. Where in your business do people have to wait because the paperwork isn't completed on time, or completed accurately? Ask your associates, listen to their answers, and don't kill the messenger!