Drawing a Line

When facing a common problem, there are two options to address it. The first one is to hire an external consultant or assign a new team member to identify the situation as a problem. The second option is to permanently set someone with analytical capabilities to routinely review current processes with the goal of improving them. This will help ensure efficient and purposeful operations rather than just following them out of inertia.

Imagine this case, at a company, a complete physical inventory of the warehouses was conducted at the end of the year. Personnel from other areas were invited to assist with counting the materials. However, because the personnel was unfamiliar with the materials, mistakes were made.

In the finished product warehouse, invoices were assigned to distribution routes, and those that were not included waited to be assigned to another route. The warehouse manager released the materials that were included in the invoices assigned to a route, and then they were packed. This caused inconsistencies in the physical inventory and the system’s stock. The personnel had a protocol to separate invoices that were not included in the routes, but sometimes products were taken from the shelves, which resulted in counting errors.

The solution to this problem was as simple as drawing a line inside the warehouse. The material that crossed the line was released from the warehouse and packed and shipped on the other side of the line. This solution seemed obvious, but the personnel did not consider it because their mindset was limited by “Workshop Blindness”. Over time, the line became a fence, and another building was constructed to separate the finished product warehouse from the packing and shipping area.

Sometimes we keep making the same mistakes, not because the solution is nowhere to be found, but because our understanding is blinded by routine.

Alfredo Velasco

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