Value the Seconds You Can Save

Improvements are improvements whether they are days, hours, minutes, or seconds.  Of course everyone wants to save days or hours when they make an improvement, but the improvements that save seconds are the most valuable.

I know.  I get a crazy look every time I say that because it is the smallest measurement of time.  How can that be a big savings?

First of all, if any savings is good then we should applaud even a 1 second savings that someone comes up with.  Organizations and people who do this are the ones that I see become more and more successful with their lean implementation.

Too many times I have discussion where people are looking for the big hit improvement.  How do I take weeks out of my lead time?  How do I get hours out of my changeover process?  The list goes on.

It is good to look for big improvements in the process, but once it is found it becomes harder and harder to find the next big improvement.  This behavior reinforces the thought that only big improvements are what we are looking for and beneficial.  When this is the mentality, the improvement process stalls.  No one is valuing the seconds that could be saved just by moving something 5 feet closer to the point of use.

When seconds being saved is valued the mentality of every improvement no matter how big or small is important is reinforced.  We should recognize a 3 second improvement the same way we recognize a 3 day improvement.  Eventually, seconds are the difference that will take the process from good to world class.

Seconds being valued makes it easier for people to find improvements within the world they can control.  The easier it is to find an improvement, the more improvements will be made.  This will lead to better engagement across the organization.

The next time someone makes an improvement that saves them or anyone just a few seconds stop and recognize them for doing so.  Value the seconds that can be saved by everyone.

Posted on September 16, 2011, in Culture, Engagment, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. One of our improvement project teams was able to improve a cycle time for a process by 3 sec. They felt that they had not accomplished much until we figured that with the machine rate and increased output, the team saved the company $45,000 annually. That’s $15,000 per second. Even if the savings had not been so great, by celebrating the improvements we encourage our associates to continue with their improvement ideas. It’s like applauding a young child in his first steps. The encouragement lets him know he is accomplishing something and continues to walk and then eventually runs. The same thing will happen with our associates as we support their efforts.

  2. I like to use the Save the Seconds Campaign. I think this approach is much more powerful that the larger savings. You can make so many more when they are small bit size improvements. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for your comments. I like the examples of what a few seconds can save. One team I worked with calculated the extra capacity for a 5 second savings in setup time. The savings would be enough capacity to create another $15million in revenue per year. At the time we had the sales to fill it so it was truly adding to the top line. Small improvements can make a big difference.

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