Fix that Leaky Faucet

Improvement Insights Blog

Fix that Leaky Faucet

Just because you don’t know how to fix something, doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed. It’s possible to mistake-proof anything. Fix that leaky faucet.


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

“If you have a leaky faucet, you don’t say, “Well, I can’t fix that” just because you don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet. You might hire somebody to do it, you might watch a YouTube video and you might go out and then figure out how to fix it and replace whatever the gizmo inside that’s causing it to leak.

“This is what I always see; it’s possible to mistake proof anything. Last year I bought my wife a new computer because her old computer was dying. We got it all set up but she was having trouble printing because we only have one printer. She was trying to print to my printer and could never do it. I finally got tired of printing stuff that she emailed me and I went in and I was looking around and I realized that for some reason when we disconnected the old computer we didn’t connect the ethernet cable from the main hub into her new computer. As soon as I did that, guess what? She could see the network and her computer could see my printer and so now she can print whatever she wants. The other thing is because she was running off a wi-fi which is slower she’s now running off a solid wired connection that runs about 10 times as fast, everything else she does is a lot faster.

“Now it took me a while to get motivated to go fix that leaky faucet, but I got it done. I believe that in any situation we can find a way to mistake proof things so that it’s impossible for humans to fail. That’s the problem in most of these systems: The system lets humans fail. If we take that system and we tune it up and fix whatever it is so that it stops leaking, guess what? You get a magical increase in productivity, profitability, everything else you can possibly imagine… customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, it all gets better, but we have to sit down and take a few minutes to fix that leaky faucet.

“So anyway, that’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s create a hassle-free America. Let’s create hassle-free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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