How Being an Outsider Helps You Become More Efficient

Author: The Effective Syndicate |

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In 1937, a truck driver by the name of Malcolm McLean sat in line at a shipyard, weighting to unload his freight.

He had already spent most of the night driving. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and he was eager to get home to his family. However, he understood the trucking business and the time it takes to unload a typical load onto the boat. He counted the trucks ahead of him and realized that he was going to spend most of the day sitting in his truck, waiting for his freight to be unloaded. Understandably, he was frustrated with this situation.

He knew there had to be a better way.

He wondered why they couldn't just take the whole back of his truck off and load it onto the boat. This would alleviate all of the manual unloading and loading. He posed this question to individuals in the shipping yard and was quickly dismissed. Everyone knew that the unload and load times were a fixed variable. You could throw more people at the task, but of course that just raised labor costs. To them, the solution wasn't in the loading or unloading of the freight, it was in the travel time. They postulated that if they could build a faster boat, then it would counterbalance the time to load.

Unwilling to accept that "reality", Mr. McLean spent the next twenty years developing the modern day shipping container system.

He was ultimately able to reduce the time it took to load a ship from one week, down to eight hours. After seeing his results, no one dismissed the former "trucker" that didn't know what he was talking about.

How Being an Outsider Helps You Become More Efficient

While working at Toyota, I met with the Director of the Office for Value and Innovation in Healthcare Delivery at the University of Kentucky.

The idea of utilizing my Lean expertise to help improve the health and wellbeing of others was appealing to me. I had set up this meeting to ask what sort of education or experience I might need to one day enter the Healthcare field. At the end of our discussion, he told me, "I can teach you about Healthcare. What you have now is an understanding of looking at a system or process and evaluating how to remove the waste to make it better."

The Director recognized the value of having someone from outside of the industry to help innovate improvements.

I wouldn't have any of the industry bias and misconceptions that would lead me to think the solution would always be a faster ship.

At The Effective Syndicate, we embrace this role of the outside innovator and champion for improvement beyond "the way we've always done it." If you are ready to start running to your potential by listening to that outside voice, we are ready to help!

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