Stomp Out Fires When You See Them

Improvement Insights Blog

Stomp Out Fires When You See Them

Ever seen a puff of smoke rising from some debris? What did you do about it? The same is true in businesses; a small error in production can be put out quickly at the beginning. Become a volunteer firefighter in your company. Here’s how:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“A few years back I was at the American Society for Quality Audit Conference down in Memphis, Tennessee. We were staying at the Peabody Hotel where they have the famous duck walk at night, where the ducks come out and get into the pond. It’s a tradition, right? But we had some time the next day before the conference started and my wife and I walked up to Sun Records, which is where Elvis got his start… I mean, all kinds of artists have recorded in this studio.

“We walked on up there (it was about a mile away) and then we were walking back and I noticed that there was a tree with a planter that had some mulch around it and there was smoke coming out of the mulch. Well, that looks like fire, right? So I walked over and kicked the mulch out of the way and stomped out the fire and made sure it was out. Then I was starting to walk back down, and the fire engines started coming up. The fire guys were looking around I pointed them over. I said, “There was smoke coming out of this this well here, but I stomped on it.” If that had gone up, it could have gotten the tree and taken down the building next to it. In Boulder we just had a thousand homes [destroyed] by a fire.

“So if you see a fire, go step on it when it’s small, right? This is not hard, but I think every day in our lives and our work lives we see a little fire and we [think], “Oh, we ought to put that out,” and then think, “Well, it’s somebody else’s job.” No! Go step on the fire! We do not need the fire truck, we do not need a whole bunch of stuff; think about it.

“So that’s my Improvement Insight: If you see something burning, go put it out… especially if it’s not supposed to be on fire. Let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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