There is a leafy houseplant in our office here at Metal Casting Design & Purchasing. It was adopted by Mark McGowan, one of our coworkers, a couple of years ago. Since then, it has flourished and grown, with one long, viney arm stretching across his cubicle office and now snaking its way to the neighboring space.
We’ve begun to measure that vine’s progress, like a parent marking their children’s height on the wall.
On Aug. 23, it had grown 28 inches since July 5. In a few months, it will reach my office. I cannot wait.
The funny thing is, none of us really paid much attention to the plant, besides maybe Mark, until he stuck a post-it note on the wall, marking the date. Now, we can visually tell how far that vine has come. We can state for fact: this plant has grown X inches since X date.
I recently visited a metalcasting facility that takes measurement and data analysis seriously. As the president told me, “Anything that is measured improves.”
The company has applied this mantra across its whole business, from workforce development to scheduling, and the results have been positive. This analytical approach helps make business decisions, as well as track a decision’s impact and give the chance for course correction or redirection. Any business seeking improvement can benefit from this attention to measurement.
Sometimes there is fear in measuring, because what if that first data point is not what you want it to be? Anyone who has avoided stepping on a scale might understand. But measuring ultimately can be rewarding, especially as goals are approached, met and then exceeded.
Measuring something, like a part’s scrap rate, delivery record or pick-and-place time, doesn’t just indicate the current data point. It shows what is possible, what more can happen.
As for our pet office plant, I don’t think we’ll be developing any Excel spreadsheets tracking its progress. We don’t have any specific goals for its growth. But we are invested in it just the same. If it starts to brown or stops growing, we’ll notice and discuss what we should do to keep it healthy. I’m rooting for it to make it to my desk.
Click here to see this story as it appears in the September/October 2017 issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing.
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