Curse Those Stinkin’ Laptops

I will be the first to admit that I love my laptop.  At home or at work, I don’t think I could go back to a desktop as my normal computer.  The portability and ease of use is great.  In fact, I am typing this blog post on my work laptop now…shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

David Castillo Dominici /

As a user, I love my laptop.  As a facilitator, I hate the invention of the laptop.  They creep into kaizen events time after time and cause numerous distractions.  One suggestion that comes up to help with this situation is to make it a rule that no laptops are allowed or they are to be closed during work time but during breaks they can be opened to check on things.  I agree.  This a rule that I discuss at the start of every kaizen event.  It is a start but the laptops creep out day after day.

I started making sure there were breakout groups (see post here) scheduled to help keep people involved in the discussions and the laptops shut.  That works sometimes but the laptops keep coming like a bad dream.

I have reminded individuals during breaks about the rule of keeping laptops shut.  It works for awhile.  Then the laptops creep back out.  I have tried everything I can think of except putting a laptop drop off by the door so they aren’t anywhere near people.

Am I the only one having this trouble?  Is it a problem that I should really care about?

I know in  today’s world, connectivity is king.  If it isn’t the laptop, it is the smartphone.  I understand that everyone is busy also.  I am not old and can remember the days of not having any laptops or smartphones.  Kaizen events and meetings meant we were disconnected for that time. How do we capture that same feeling and spirit again?


Posted on June 7, 2012, in Culture, Engagment, People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I regularly ask during a training to not use computers, or phone’s or even ipad’s.
    I already had people saying then I can not attend. And that’s fine for me.
    I prefer heads that count over headcount anytime.
    And yes, if I’m in a meeting where that is not a rule, I will be tempted to use my phone also to check stuff that are urgent, but not important

  2. Try setting up a fine system and have a treasurer. The fines go towards snacks or a favorite charity of the group. Worked great for me with laptops, Blackberries, etc..

  3. I just don’t allow them, plain and simple. If anyone uses a device, I call them on it publicly. It’s the only way to break habits. To be fair, though, I review the “rules of engagement” for anything I’m facilitating at the beginning, explain why each rule is a key success factor and ask for agreement from the group. That way I can say “but you agreed…” When possible, I also have my clients distribute the rules in advance so the team is prepared. Finally we take two 10 mins breaks in both the morning and the afternoon with a full hour for lunch to allow people to get/stay caught up.

  4. Matt,

    The charity thing gets to be a competition too. It can also backfire, I told a group once that since they selected my charity, I would match it and then the company would match the total as it looked like we’d end up with about $20 in fines at the rate we were going. After break, the phones went nuts as guys started arranging to have someone call their buddy’s phone so they would be teased. I ended up paying $75 bucks out of my pocket that day.

    It also takes about a half hour or so at the start of the training session to arrange the treasurer and pick a charity but if you are going to have a multi-day event, people get into it. Like anything, it’s just a matter of buy-in.


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