Don’t Have the Fifth Bowl of Rice First!


    Another interesting anecdote from Dr.Shigeo Shingo to drive a point home forcefully!

    A man came home from mountain climbing all day and was starving.

    He started eating bowls of rice and on the fifth bowl felt full and his hunger
    was gone.

    "If only I had known that the fifth bowl of rice would be the one that satisfied
    my hunger. I should have had the fifth bowl of rice first" he said.

    The fifth bowl would be useless without the first four and so it is with Process Improvement.

    Dr. Shingo compares the five bowls of rice to growing rice:

    a. Tilling the land
    b. Spreading fertlizers and manure
    c. Sowing the seeds
    d. Add additional fertlizer
    e. Shoots finally appear

    In Continuous Process Improvement, the five steps are:

    a. Discuss the need for improvement and set the stage.
    b. Discussions and generate suggestions for improvement.
    c. Determine broad and most important themes of improvement.
    d. Determine a methodology for how ideas are brought up in the future for improvement.
    e. Present specific suggestions and select one or more for improvement.

    In an age of instant gratification, the above process seems painfully slow. But that’s
    precisely why many other past programs like Process Reengineering, Total Quality Management, and Zero Defects have all joined the scrap heap of quality approaches within companies. If another quality approach is mentioned within companies, you may encounter a knowing sarcastic smirk rather than excitement.

    Now many large corporations we have talked to in the past year, have seen the enormous value of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, have active programs that implement these within their companies but have been spooked so much by previous "fad of the day" quality approaches that they are very careful about not mentioning these anywhere in their corporate manifestos! They do not want to set undue expectations for magically quick results!

    Unfortunately, making the conditions right and training for Continuous Process Improvement, patiently, are more important than the first process that is attempted for change.

    This is why Toyota is able to make cars better, faster and cheaper all at the same time.
    And others are struggling to keep up!

    You cannot have the fifth bowl of rice first, no matter how hungry you are!

    Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when
    the going is hard and slow – that is patience.

    — Anonymous


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