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Do You Need A Consultant To Find Your Muda?

Do You Need A Consultant To Find Your Muda?

Competition in today's world is so fierce, that it is important to stay ahead of other, even by just a couple of steps. And you have such a huge and naturally well endowed country.

Virendra Dubey
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A leading hotel group from India (perhaps Taj hotel group) had invited Mr. Masaaki Imai from Japan to hold a workshop for its staff. Masaaki Imai (born, 1930) is a Japanese organizational theorist and management consultant, known for his work on quality management, specifically on Kaizen. 

The staff was very skeptical - the hotel is doing excellent business, this person from Japan has no exposure to hotel industry - what exactly is he going to teach?

But everybody gathered as planned for the workshop in the conference hall sharp at 9 am.

Mr. Masaaki was introduced to them - a not so impressive personality, nor the English all that good; spoke as if he was first formulating each sentence in Japanese and then translating it into rather clumsy English.

"Good morning! Let's start work. I am told this is a workshop; but I see neither work nor shop. So let's proceed where work is happening. Let's start with the first room on the first floor."

Mr. Masaaki, followed by the senior management, the participants, the video camera crew trouped out of the conference room and proceeded to the destination. That happened to be the laundry room of the hotel. Mr. Masaaki entered the room and stood at the window, "beautiful view!" he said.

The staff knew it; they need not invite a Japanese consultant to tell them this!

"A room with such a beautiful view is being wasted as a laundry room. Shift the laundry to the basement and convert this into a guest room."

Aa Haa! Now nobody had ever thought about that!

The manager said, "Yes, it can be done."

"Then let's do it," Mr. Masaaki said.

"Yes sir, I will make a note of this and we will include it in the report on the workshop that will be prepared." Manager

"Excuse me, but there is nothing to note down in this. Let's just do it, just now." Mr. Masaaki.

"Just now?" Manager

"Yes, decide on a room on the ground floor/basement and shift the stuff out of this room right away. It should take a couple of hours, right?" asked Mr. Masaaki.

"Yes." Manager.

"Let's come back here just before lunch. By then all this stuff will have got shifted out and the room must be ready with the carpets, furniture etc. and from today you can start earning the few thousand that you charge your customers for a night."

"Ok, Sir." The manager had no option.

The next destination was the pantry. The group entered. At the entrance were two huge sinks full of plates to be washed. Mr. Masaaki removed his jacket and started washing the plates.

"Sir, Please, what are you doing?" the manager didn't know what to say and what to do.

"Why, I am washing the plates", Mr. Masaaki.

"But sir, there is staff here to do that." Manager Mr. Masaaki continued washing, "I think sink is for washing plates, there are stands here to keep the plates and the plates should go into the stands."

All the officials wondered - did they require a consultant to tell them this?

After finishing the job, Mr. Masaaki asked, "How many plates do you have?"

"Plenty, so that there should never be any shortage." answered the Manager.

Mr. Masaaki said, "We have a word in Japanese -'Muda'. Muda means delay, Muda means unnecessary spending. One lesson to be learned in this workshop is to avoid both. If you have plenty of plates, there will be delay in cleaning them up. The first step to correct this situation is to remove all the excess plates."

"Yes, we will say this in the report." Manager.

"No, wasting our time in writing the report is again an instance of 'Muda'. We must pack the extra plates in a box right away and send these to whichever other section of Taj requires these. Throughout the workshop now we will find out where all we find this 'Muda' hidden."

And then at every spot and session, the staff eagerly awaited to find out Muda and learn how to avoid it. On the last day, Mr. Masaaki told a story:

A Japanese and an American, both fond of hunting, met in a jungle. They entered deep jungle and suddenly realized that they had run out of bullets. Just then they heard a lion roaring. Both started running. But the Japanese took a short break to put on his sports shoes.

The American said, "What are you doing? We must first get to the car."

The Japanese responded, "No. I only have to ensure that I remain ahead of you."

All the participants engrossed in listening to the story, realized suddenly that the lion would stop after getting his victim!

"The lesson is: competition in today's world is so fierce, that it is important to stay ahead of other, even by just a couple of steps. And you have such a huge and naturally well endowed country. If you remember to curtail your production expenditure and give the best quality always, you will be miles ahead as compared to so many other countries in the world.", concluded Mr. Masaaki.

Now, its your time to find your hidden 'muda'.

To read more about Mr. Massaki, refer  wikipedia.


Contributed By Virendra Dubey

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