How Many Production Decisions?

Whether in service delivery (including health care delivery), manufacturing, or any other production environment, your team members are likely having to make lots of decisions under perceived time pressure. Even with great visual aids, many of these processes are mistake-prone.

One of the reasons I like pre-kitting parts for a specific option configuration is that it separates the process of deciding which parts to pick from the process of installing them.

This might not seem that big a deal.

Fortunately, if you have a copy of Windows Vista, it comes with a great simulation that shows just how this can feel on the line.

Look under “Games” and start the “Purple Place” game. Select the building in the middle of the screen, and you will find yourself in a cake factory.


The idea is to look at the TV monitor on the left, and produce a cake that matches the picture. You can move the belt forward and back to position the cake under the various applicators. Then you simply select the correct choice. Seems pretty simple.

Go ahead, try it.

This screen shot is from the “Advanced” level, but even the “Beginner” is pretty easy to screw up unless you are focused and paying attention all of the time.

So – if you find yourself saying “All the employees need to do is look at the picture, and follow the directions – why is that so difficult?” then see how well you do on this game. Play it from the start of your regular work shift until the first break, say two hours, and see how many mistakes you make.

Now consider that your production environment is likely orders of magnitude more complex than this game for little kids. And you are expecting people to work all day, every day, without ever making a mistake.wrongcake

If you are in health care delivery – think about the picture of the finished cake as the physician’s instructions, and the production line as the actual process of filling the prescriptions, administering medications, protocols for preventing infections, record keeping procedures, and ask yourself if there aren’t many more opportunities for error – that are far better concealed – than the ones in this little game.

Just a thought for the day. Meanwhile – enjoy finding a work-related reason to have “Games” loaded onto your Vista machine! 🙂

One Reply to “How Many Production Decisions?”

  1. Mark:

    I’m tired of this website of yours. I’m tired of you.!! Are you following me around? Are you some kind of Voodoo Witch Doctor? Oh, I know; you have one of those Voodoo dolls that looks like me and you are sticking Lean pins in it.

    Almost every time I start a project your right there with great advice. Just when I think I’ve got a plan, you screw it up.!! By making me re-think it.

    We have been tracking errors on our manufacturing line. Finally we have decided to start a new training program. Training that will be targeted directly at our errors. Now you’ve got me thinking that our errors are not only a training issue, but a kitting materials issue. Or a issue about decision making.

    Thank you so much, now I have another avenue to pursue. I’ll be looking at what kind of decisions our worker have to make and how we can help them make those decisions.

    PS: It’s OK, you can keep following me around. But just go easy on the pins.

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