20060729

Time-and-motion study

THE STRING AND THE SPOON

A timeless lesson on how consultants can make a
difference for an organization. Last week, we took
some friends out to a new restaurant, and noticed
That the waiter who took our order carried a
spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange.

When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I
noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then
I looked around saw that all the staff had spoons in
their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked,
"Why the spoon?"

"Well," he explained, "The restaurant's owners hired
PriceterhouseCoopers to revamp all our processes.
After several months of analysis, they concluded that
the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It
represents a drop frequency of approximately three
spoons per table per hour.

If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the
number of trips back to the kitchen and save fifteen
man-hours per shift."

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was
able to replace it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon
next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an
extra trip to get it right now."

I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a
string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking
around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same
string hanging from their flies. So before he walked
off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell
me why you have that string right there?"

"Oh, certainly!" Then he lowered his voice. "Not
everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I
mentioned also found out that we can save time
in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of
your you-know-what, we can pull it out without
touching it and eliminate the need to wash
our hands, shortening the time spent in the rest-
room by 76.39 percent."

I asked "After you get it out, how do you put it
back?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others...
but I use the spoon."