Conference Calls, Kids, and SMED

My wife is out of town to visit some relatives which means it’s me and my three kiddos for the weekend.

Here is the sticky part. I had to arrange an important conference call today and was totally stressing out on how I was going to pull it off with a 3 year old, 5 year old, and 21 month old running around in all their glory.

Conference Call Coordination

Since my call was with folks in the UK I decided to schedule it at 6:00 AM since my kids usually sleep to around 6:30 AM or 7:00 AM.

My 3 year old is the one I was most worried about since she is usually first to rise… and she is also the most clingy in the morning.

With this in mind, I put some counter-measures in place the night before. Here is what I did.

  • I first cleaned the place up since no one likes clutter.
  • Next, I got the TV channel turned to 298 (Noggin). All I had to do was click “on” and Dora the Explorer would come to my rescue. This alone could be a life saver.
  • I then got her milk poured in a glass and put in the fridge for easy grabbing.
  • I also laid out their cereal bowls and even had the cereal box at point of use for easy pouring.
  • Lastly, I kept her up a little longer than normal hoping this would work in my benefit.

Related to Lean Six Sigma

You may wonder what this has to do with lean or six sigma. I contend a lot.

Cleaning the place up represents basic 5S. No one functions well in a mess. The other things (getting TV ready, etc.) are loosely tied to the things we try to do to reduce changeovers via SMED.

The key to reducing the downtime associated with things like changeovers is to do all we can while the machine is running. We call this converting internal tasks (things we can only do with the machine stopped) to external tasks (things we can do while machine is running).

It’s really common sense if you think about it. Why wait until the machine is stopped to get all the tools and supplies needed? Collect all the tools while the machine is running so you don’t waste time once the machine has stopped.

So, really, all I was doing in preparation for my kiddo possibly waking up while I was on my conference call was practicing changeover reduction!

How it all turned out

I started my call at 6:00 AM sharp. I was in my bedroom with the door closed to limit the noise through the house.

The call was going great… but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to watching the clock.

I’d rehearsed (in my mind) what to do when my little angel popped her head in my door. I’d move for the TV remote, turn on Dora, while heading for the fridge for the milk (practicing flow). I’d also work the mute button on my BlackBerry as needed.

And wouldn’t you know it… my call ended at around 6:40 and 5 minutes later my 3 year old came bee bopping down the steps ready to start her day.

I was ready to.  And while my counter-measures weren’t needed for the conference call our morning went very, very smooth. Let’s see how I do the next few days!

Have a great weekend everyone.

3 Comments

  1. Timothy Simmons

    May 30, 2008 - 8:28 pm

    Brilliant post! And brilliant approach to a tough situation indeed. Let us know how the rest of the weekend goes.

  2. Ron Pereira

    May 30, 2008 - 9:18 pm

    I will Timothy. So far so good! Thanks for the kind words.