Continuous Improvement – One small step…

Posted March 11th, 2007

There’s a true story about a group of Japanese managers of a steel manufacturing plant that visited a UK plant. Both plants were very similar only the Japanese one was making profit and the UK one was losing money.

At the end of the visit, the owner of the UK plant turned to the Japanese boss and said, “There’s obviously something you’ve got right, that we haven’t. What ‘s the big difference?”

The head of the Japanese steel plant politely turned and said, “There is not one big difference, but we do have one or two suggestions…” He then proceeded to list 124 ways the manufacturing plant could improve! An example was this…

When the blast-furnace doors opened to let a steel ingot roll out, the Japanese doors opened two inches less than the UK doors. So less heat was lost and it took less time (and money) to heat the furnace back up again. It wasn’t much, but over time the saving was worthwhile. Added to the other 123 examples, the changes made a profit.

The moral?

Stop looking for the one big thing that’s wrong with your business or even your life and realise that sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.


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