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Purple Curve EffectLast night I bought and downloaded Jeff “SKI” Kinsey’s e-book Purple Curve Effect: Throughput on Command (hey it’s just $2.00, what a deal!) and picked up on this little lesson in Lean Thinking that had a touch of Six Sigma to it too.

This little lesson came up as I was printing it out. I like to print out documents so I can read, highlight, and write notes in the margins (see Looking Back on My Thoughts On Reading from August in ‘97 for more on that). Generally speaking if whatever I’m printing out works out to be about 15 pages or more I’ll bind them up using A GBC hole punch and presentation binding comb setup I have.

Well I went to print out SKI’s book and given that it’s 185 pages both to make the book less thick and to save on paper I would print the odd pages first and then flip the bundle of printed pages over and print again only this time printing the even pages and then I have the book in front and back printed pages.

Well I printed it all out and as I was getting set to bind it up I noticed something was wrong with the page sequencing starting around page 80. Instead of page 85 having page 86 printed on the backside it had page 84. What the h….?!?

I quickly discovered what must have happened. Printing through the first run of just the odd pages at some point the printer grabbed two sheets of paper rather than just one so in that first run I had a uncalled for totally out of place blank page. When I printed it through for the even pages everything printed out just fine until I got that blank page which would then throw the rest of the printing page logic off.

That’s not a big deal right? I can just print the pages from 85 on again. And what is the lesson in Lean and Six Sigma in all of this?

Well as soon as the problem arose I realized there was a simple Lean term or tool for a procedure that I ignored and didn’t use that had I done it, it would have prevented the problem from ever occurring. The lean term is Poke-Yoke which is “a method of making process robust and mistake-proof”. What was the Poke-Yoke? Often printed on the packaging the paper comes in and certainly in the printer manuals for our printers in mentions that we should bend back the stack of paper and flip or leaf through it to separate the pages before loading the paper into the printer.

A simple second and a half procedure I just simply ignored wasted some 40 sheets of paper, a little ink and the entire process of printing out the e-book which should have taken maybe 7-9 minutes ended up taking me four to five times longer that it should of had. I had to discover and then diagnose the problem and then find where I had to restart the process from and then restart and repeat the process again from that point.

A little lesson learned….


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J. Jerrald Hayes
Primus Inter Pares at Paradigm Projects, Ltd.
I am an architectural woodworker and general contractor turned IT, Business and Project Management consultant, software developer wannabe senior division triathlete and ski racer, Yankee fan and founder of, 360 Difference, and now too.
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