On the first day of the event, I was asked to say a few words. Since one of our main focus areas for the week was 5S, I decided to tell this group about my recent trip to Japan. Specifically, I told them about HOKS and how seriously they take their 3S program.
I explained how, before we toured the HOKS factory, we were asked to not step on the tape (on the floor). The managing director explained that the workers come in early to clean the floors, including the tape. Yeah, they are quite serious about keeping things tidy at HOKS!
After I told them this story a few of them looked at me like I was nuts. I wasn’t sure if I should have told the story or not… but what was done was done, so we pressed on.
The team quickly jelled and began to kick serious butt. I have worked with many kaizen teams over the years – but this group was special. They worked harder than any team I have been a part of, which drove me to dive right in with them. I was dirty, tired, and completely exhilarated by the end of each day.
Well, as the workplace began to transform itself an interesting “phrase” began to spread throughout the team.
Don’t Step on the Tape!
The team had just laid down some brand new tape in perfectly straight lines (chalk lines are the best). A well laid piece of green tape is a thing of beauty if you ask me, but I digress.
Once the tape was in place the team started to mock me a little (in a fun kind of way) as I accidentally walked on the tape.
One of the team members, let’s call him Bull, was the first to climb all over me as he screamed from across the plant, “Hey! Don’t step on the tape!”
The rest of the team laughed and joined in on the fun. After this, anytime a person came close to walking on the tape we heard something like, “Stay off the tape!”
It started as a joke, but then I realized while they were indeed having fun with it, they were also serious… in a fun kind of way.
Transformed Minds and Hearts
You see, this team made massive change to their gemba and were darn proud of it. So proud, in fact, they want people to walk over their beautifully laid tape whenever possible.
Done right, a kaizen event can transform minds, hearts, and workplaces. This is why, in my opinion, no other improvement activity comes close to matching its effectiveness.
If you haven’t experienced the magic of kaizen, I highly recommend you give it a try. But, be warned, you may never be allowed to walk on floor tape again!
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