Make Something Reusable!

Improvement Insights Blog

Make Something Reusable!

If you’re creating every process in your business from scratch, you may be wasting time and missing opportunities to make your system mistake-proof. Here’s what I mean:

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

“Way back when I was at Bell Laboratories, we were building a new software system that scheduled how many transmission lines ran between point A and point B all over the country. The problem was we had a lot to do and very little time to do it in, and so we started working on what I call “reuse,” which is where you create something but then it can be reused endlessly. We learned a lot of this concept from the Unix operating system and shell programming language, which had a lot of reusable parts and you could reconfigure them in very interesting ways to get outcomes.

“I do a lot of that in the QI Macros. There’s a thing to do a certain [calculation], and I have those things reused throughout the software so I don’t have to write them over and over and over again, right? That’s just dumb, because then you make mistakes. If you got one that works, everything else is fine.

“If you think about a car, most of the parts of a car are pretty much the same, right? The chassis and the tires and all of that stuff is well known and well documented, they change the body style, they change the options, they might get a little bit better engine dynamics, or you might be Tesla and replace it with an electric motor. Right? Different thing, but still the same concepts. A lot of the same stuff is reused over and over again.

“In your environment, in your business, what things are reusable? What processes are reusable and repeatable? Which ones work better than others? Why can’t we just take the ones that are really good and repeatable and make them do that? This is one of those ways that number one, you can spend less time getting things done, but you can also create things that are mistake-proof and reusable. That way your whole organization will run more smoothly than you can possibly imagine.

“That’s my Improvement Insight. Let’s go out and improve something this week. Let’s make something reusable.”

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