One of my favorite questions is, “Why?”
Why are we doing it this way? is an incredibly powerful question.
I started 10th Human Consulting, LLC, with the concept of the tenth man rule.
The tenth man rule is the concept of having someone on your team who challenges the traditional way of doing things. Someone who, as a standard practice, asks why and proposes alternatives.
This is often viewed as contrarian but it need not be viewed as negative. Instead, it can be a sound part of effective strategy building.
Let’s look at one example of how I saved one organization three weeks a year by asking why and following through on the answer.
Some time ago, I observed a routine in a department tasked with tracking the status of more than 1,200 pieces equipment and directing maintenance for any outages.
The vast majority of that equipment functioned properly day in and day out and the key thing the team needed to know was if was if a piece of equipment was faltering and needed attention. Yet each morning an employee spent approximately 30 minutes entering status updates on every piece of equipment into a computer system.
The status of most equipment didn’t change and only any status that did change needed to be flagged for action. Yet the organization was paying someone 2.5 hours a week – that’s 130 hours a year — to click a mouse more than 1,200 times to confirm statuses that had not changed.
Looking only for status reports that had changed however took approximately two minutes each morning, which saved labor hours and shortened the response time for assignment of maintenance work.
When I saw this, I asked, “Why? Why are you updating statuses that haven’t changed?”
The answer was, “It’s always been this way.”
So I asked, “Where does that data go?” then spent about 30 minutes posing the same question to leaders in higher levels in the organization, until the fellow at Level #3 asked me, “Why the heck are they doing that?”
By having a 10th Man take a fresh look at old practices, the organization freed up approximately $1,950 per year in labor costs* and was able to channel those new-found hours into value-added activities.
If this resonates with you, please give me a call at 719-440-6626 and let’s chat.
(*Based on $15 per hour, the approximate labor rate for the organization.)