There is a long tradition of spring cleaning. Opening the doors and cleaning out closets. A time for cleansing diets, and getting in shape. Pruning back bushes and renewing the garden beds. This is a cycle which is common to most processes. Taking the opportunity for a fresh look, to re-examine the conditions and rethink the solutions. It may be that nothing needs to change - the clothes go back in the closet, the healthy lifestyle is re-instated, and the landscape stays the same - but there is re-affirmation of the choices, of the system.
Not doing the spring cleaning can have some consequences. Humans are not robots, and thus not always consistent and certainly not perfect. We fall into habits, we let work overtake us, we let things slide. For example, I’ve been sucked into the vortex of my dissertation work to the point that the rest of the world started disappearing from my awareness. This is like hibernating in a cabin for the winter. While it can be amazingly productive, at some point the air gets stale, ideas become more scarce, and output falters. Coming out of the woods for some fresh scenery is a good thing.
It may also be opportune for the construction industry to take an occasional re-think. Asking the question ‘why’ is a good way to start the process. Why are we using this type of material, or system? What are the needs and is this the best solution. What outcome do we expect? And if we’ve used this material/ process before - did we get the results? Is there an opportunity to simplify, to become more efficient?
|Rethinking the Root Cause|
In the Toyota System, this process is called kaizen. This is a process of continuing improvements, with regular awareness and observation to seek out opportunities for improvement, and then periodic concentrated efforts to build even better mousetraps. It has the benefit of a more frequent element of this ‘spring cleaning,’ which reduces the likelihood of complacency in the interim. It keeps systems more agile, more resilient to absorb unexpected events, and better prepared to adapt to radical changes. It keeps ideas fresh.
Spring Cleaning - a tradition worth keeping.