“How do you eliminate prisons?” …this was the question my boss, Bill, caught me off guard with during a business strategy discussion as he tried to get my bull-headed brain to think outside the box.
KB: “ What?! Eliminate prisons? We’re talking about next year’s business plan here. What’s this about?”
Bill went to the flip chart with pen in hand and persisted that I answer the question.
KB: “Well, one way is to severely punish anyone who violates a law. Public hanging comes to mind.” Smirking, Bill wrote it down.
KB: “OK, at the other end of the perfection spectrum, is to convert everyone to faithful Christianity where all are united in a higher purpose, having unconditional love and respect for each other.” Bill wrote that down.
Then for the next several minutes, we brought it more to the center. We eventually surfaced some ideas to focus society on changing behaviors that might have a significant effect.
Bill: “OK, so there are possible options to try to eliminate prisons! Now let’s bring the conversation back to the business … how do we lead the plant to seemingly unachievable levels of safety, quality, productivity, and zero waste? What are the specific gaps between where we are at now and the goals? What must we do to bust the barriers in front of us to be World-Class in every performance metric?”
At the end of the conversation, we had formulated an entirely new and higher quality business plan that was focused on higher goals. It was better aligned and linked with other teams. The results delivered the next year were remarkable.
Here’s the message: As a leader, remember to keep your eyes on “Perfection.” Benchmark industry and the competition to know where they are at. Then, think and dream about what Perfection looks like so you can go for it! Aim higher and plan higher, and then you will go higher.
…And Pass It On!
Quote from Vince Lombardi, the late great football coach: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
Thanks for all the responses about recycling in the old days! They were fun to peruse and here are some samples:
1. “Newspapers, especially comics, were reused for gift wrapping.”
2. “Crayon shavings were melted and poured into small glass containers with a wick and became candles.”
3. “Catalogue pictures of furniture were cut out to provide the furnishings for my dollhouse.”
4. “Old tires became flower planters.”
5. “Long sleeved shirts with worn-out elbows became short sleeved shirts.”
6. “When the soles of my knee-high socks wore out, they were cut off and transformed into ankle high crew socks. When the soles of those wore out, they were often changed into booties.”
7. “When one leg of pantyhose had a run, the damaged leg was cut off and paired with another pair that was missing a leg, so two were worn at once but with two good legs.”
8. “Charcoal starters were made from used paper egg cartons and wax or bacon grease.”
9. “There was no need to buy note pads when you could use junk mail envelopes!”
10. “Rain barrels and composting were common. This is old technology.”
You certainly get the picture that recycling was a way of life. How can you judge your recycling today? The best indicator is to watch the garbage that you take to the curb.
Remember Larman’s manufacturing team? (reference blogs http://frontlinefocus.us/?p=1298 and http://frontlinefocus.us/?p=1060). They are a great benchmark, where over 200 people generate less than 50 gallons of waste per week going to the landfill, without burning! This includes manufacturing waste, paper towels from the rest rooms, potato chip bags, bottles, paper, cardboard, yarn …everything is Reduced, Reused, or Recycled, except for 50 gallons. The team worked for months analyzing the pile of waste, driving the root causes to zero. They segregated everything and worked with suppliers to find alternatives. Tina and her Waste Stream Team dug until they found the right channels for the recyclables. Larman explained to the teams that Styrofoam containers were not friendly to the environment or the business, so “just don’t bring them into the plant, even if it means buying your favorite drink at another establishment.”
America’s national recycling rate is 34 percent and growing! Zero Waste is not rocket science, and in reality, is only common sense and common science. It takes Belief in Zero, Leadership, and Teamwork.
As a leader, you can influence an entire team and their families on America Recycles Day, November 15, to increase this rate. This is a leader’s opportunity, and responsibility.
…Only then, can we Pass It On!
Quote of the week from Mother Teresa: “I only feel angry when I see waste, when I see people throwing away things we could use.”
For more about “America Recycles Day,” click here: http://americarecyclesday.org
5. Beverage Cans
6. Food Cans
7. Glass Bottles
10. Plastic Bottles & Caps