Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clock in. Turn off mind.

I heard something very troubling while shopping at Kohls the other day. (We were doing our part to stimulate the economy.) We ran into a friend who shared a story from her work. She heard one of her coworkers speaking with a production associate: “We pay you from the shoulders down not the shoulders up.”

I call bull shit.

Sorry to be blunt, but that is one of the saddest things that I have ever heard in my life.

Yet, unfortunately, that is what manufacturing runs the risk of doing to people. Manufacturing can turn people into work horses – creatures just plodding away pulling the plow. That is not how we are designed. I don’t care if we are talking about chemists, janitors, teachers, garbage people, farmers, receptionists, dentists, or librarians. We have minds. We should use them.

I recently had a conversation with one of my coworkers. As seems to happen so frequently now, it started out with me asking a question:

“Why does the level of this tank change all of the time?”


“Well, I’ve been told it is because we change the valve settings?”

“I’ve been told?”

Stop right there. Notice the question. I didn’t ask what for what he had been told. I asked why the level in the tank changes. Level changes in tanks suggest volume changes. Volume changes suggest concentration changes.

It turns out that the concentration did change.

The volume in the tank had changed. It had nothing to do with changing valves. It had nothing to do with what someone else had said. It had everything to do with people not knowing how to maintain the evaporative losses of the system.

It is time for change.

It is time for manufacturing to honor the fact that people have brains.

1 comment:

Don said...

Right on Todd. Sadly, I think the "turn off mind" problem exists in all fields of employment/occupation.