TPS Benchmarking

A Workplace that Encourages Movement Gets Good Results

By Jon Miller Published on September 20th, 2006

A classroom that encourages movement gets good grades. One of our team members recently spotted this article during a Northwest Airlines flight in the September 2006 in-flight magazine. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic with a class room of fifth grade students in Rochester, Minnesota, getting rid of chairs and encouraging motion helped them learn.
Students were given “standing desks” on wheels as well as mobility tools such as laptops in an effort to encourage movement and reduce obesity. The results were that the children were happier, more focused and better able to learn. This may have been due as much to the novelty of the moving tables and the electronics they were given to work with as to the movement during the class, but the Mayo Clinic folks are still crunching numbers.
I had a high school American history teacher who was great. He would tell us not to sit in the same desk each class. It was interesting because some students got into a routine and always sat in the same desk, while others like me would sit in different parts of the class room each time. I don’t know if that helped me learn, as he was an excellent teacher and the subject was interesting to me anyway.
Other experiments have shown that exercise promotes better results on school tests. Giving the learner more control over how they learn (standing or moving versus sitting at a “one size fits all” desk) is an example of empowerment, a key part of kaizen. Asking people to change their seat changes their point of view (literally) and keeps people from getting set in their thinking.
In a similar way, a workplace that encourages movement gets good results. Movement for movement’s sake can simply be wasted motion, but movement to facilitate a smooth workflow improves performance. The natural end result of a desire to give the customers what they want, when they want it, in the right quantity is a flow. Flow is the continuous movement of value-adding activities. A workplace that encourages this type of movement gets good results.


    October 6, 2006 - 7:45 am


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