Why Fix the Escalator?

Why Fix the Escalator? from the Lean manufacturing blog on a visit to the NUMMI plant:

A very large permanent sign above the escalator said something like:

“Sorry for inoperative escalator. It would cost $120k to repair. We feel money could be better spent on other things. Please accept our apologies.”

Wow. The frugality and practicality of TPS was illustrated by that sign, our tour group thought. Rather than a knee-jerk reaction of fixing it when broken, somebody asked that powerful question: “Why?”

Another question I’m challenging myself with: If this had been a GM plant, would I be criticizing them for being cheap?

Good points and questions. I have another question, why was the escalator put there in the first place? I did not visit the plant but it sounds like it isn’t needed. Did something change, or was it a wasteful decision in the first place?

I think we all (including me) have to be careful when we make judgments of those we respect or find wanting. It seems our judgments often have more to do with our opinion of the person or company, than the specific behavior we believe we are judging. At times this is wise, I believe, but you should remember the basis for your opinion.

Right now, I will give Google the benefit of the doubt. If Google does something that I don’t understand, I figure they probably understand something that I don’t. And it similarly makes sense to think – if Toyota makes a certain decision there is a likelihood it was a good decision.

So if my first judgment was “that it was not the best decision” then maybe I should think more before I commit. I think it is important to understand your thought process in making a decision. So I think it is wise to ask: “If this had been a GM plant, would I be criticizing them for being cheap?”

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One Response to Why Fix the Escalator?

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Keep in the mind that the decision to build the escalator was that of General Motors, when they built the plant in the early 60's and ran it (into the ground) until the early 80's.

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