THE CEO of a small corporation who is known for his being brutally frugal approached the newly hired manager who was pirated from another firm. He made a salary offer: “We only pay our managers P20,000 a week.” The shocked manager replied: “I’m sorry sir, but that’s an insult to my experience and background!”
The chief operating officer (CEO) agreed: “Yes, that’s why we pay only every other week. That way you are not insulted as often.”
Now, quick—give me at least one everyday example of how organizations make you feel like stupid, if not insulted similar in intensity to what Napoleon Bonaparte said that, “in politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” Let me give you an idea. Available resources are there for the taking but why are they not being used, if not maximized to its fullest potential?
If you are a lot like of people who are blinded by proximity to these problems, then this challenge may be alien to you. But to many of us, the first thing that comes to our mind is, of course the nothing-doing government bureaucrats as suggested by Robert Kiyosaki in his book—Why “A” Students Work for “C” Students and “B” Students Work for the Government (2012). They are referred to as Academic-loving people who ended up working for Capitalist-businessmen, and the Bureaucrats, who are always caught in a new level of incompetence.
Go to any government agency, and in a matter of seconds you can list down more than ten non-value adding practices that are being done by nincompoops that you can’t avoid asking questions like—“Why are these people doing a lot of circuitous acts and ineffective plans that would only result to nothing but wastes?”
Recently, the Philippine National Police announced its plan to hire 100 blue guards to man the post of its three main gates at Camp Crame, costing us P21 million a year. The reason is to assign the policemen doing guard duty to street patrol, never mind the awkward situation of assigning cats to guard a dog house.
Why can’t they think of solutions that would not require disbursements of people’s money? For one, why not use police recruits to man the gates? And I doubt if we really need 100 guards to man three gates and the impact of 100 policemen doing street patrol covering Metro Manila’s 15 million people.
I remember another government disaster when it prioritized spending taxpayers’ money when it ignored a low-cost, common-sense solution. In 2008, the immigration bureau bought signal jamming devices worth several millions of pesos to help stem the tide against the reported illegal activities of its officials with human trafficking syndicates inside the airport.
An unwanted result became evident as soon as the jamming devices were installed. It also blocked the online operations of the much-maligned bureau. A question comes to mind, why can’t these bureaucrats think first of prohibiting the use of mobile phones rather than buying those expensive devices? Your guess is perfectly analogous to what other Filipinos are thinking.
As a Kaizen (Japanese for continuous improvement) evangelist, I believe in low-cost and common-sense solution than anything. Kaizen or lean management for the western world is more powerful than any technology and expensive-looking devices in this planet. The idea is simple. Its core principle is to have infinite small steps and gradual changes done by an army of employee-problem solvers tasked to eliminate wastes and to create value.
Speaking of “wastes,” there are known eight academic wastes that can easily be remembered using the acronym DOWNTIME as in: Defects, Over-production, Waiting, Non-use of employee talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Excessive processing. The “non-use of employee talent” is a recent addition by Jeffrey Liker of The Toyota Way fame to the first seven previously identified by Toyota’s icon Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990) who castigated his engineers for their ideas that required spending money of the company.
Beyond that, I can see an opportunity to expand Liker’s “non-use of employee talent,” which refers to management failure to actively solicit and implement workers’ ideas. Instead of limiting ourselves to “employee talent,” it’s best to expand it to the “non-use of 5Ms” as in man, machine, method, material, or milieu (environment). After all, resources are not limited to human capital.
I mean, if an organization is not using available machines to its fullest potential, then that’s a form of waste. The same thing goes through with the non-use of available raw materials, failure to apply the right method, destroying high workers’ morale, and so on. As Ohno once said: “Use your brain, not our money.”
Now we know—the root of all evil is when bureaucrats act like stupid spending people’s money.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random thoughts.