Muda, TSA Style

From Seth Godin’s blog:

Don’t snowglobe me, bro

Snowglobe How important is it? Is it so important you need to interrupt everyone, every single one of your customers?

There are only a few signs on my way through security, yet there, on the biggest of all, is a warning about snow globes. Snow globes are apparently a big enough threat/cause for confusion that they get their own sign.

Every time you interrupt your prospect or consumer, you better ask, “is it important enough…” Most of the time, it’s not. Most of the time, the interruption is a selfish, misguided effort by a committee that doesn’t get it.

Yes, I know the TSA doesn’t care about customers. But it’s a good lesson for anyone who does.

Don’t snowglobe me. Interrupting everyone so you can properly alert one person in a thousand is just silly.


Bottom line… just because we can cc everyone, doesn’t mean we should.



2 thoughts on “Muda, TSA Style

  1. Jamie Flinchbaugh August 15, 2010 / 7:13 pm

    True, but…

    since I travel a great deal I get to see a bit of the impact of things like this. Having seen this happen – someone has a gift of a snowglobe. It’s for the daughter, for example. TSA says they can’t bring it on. This is not the same as leaving your toothpaste in the garbage at the security check – it’s leaving your daughter’s gift in the garbage. Hence, an argument ensues, which disrupts EVERYONE. This is NOT for the benefit of one person. This is for the benefit of maintaining flow.

    I’m the last person to stand up for TSA – most of what they do is for the sake of appearances and not true impact. However, I have to disagree with Seth’s analysis.

    • Bob Hubbard August 16, 2010 / 7:41 pm

      Thanks for the comments Jaime, I appreciate your insight. I think it’s important to for lean practitioners to adapt to their environments. (I know you are heavily involved helping the healthcare industry)
      Having spent 25 years in the airline industry; I know that in many cases, normal rules don’t apply.

      Healthcare and air travel are heavily regulated industries where the consequences of making mistakes can be catastrophically negative. In industries like these, individual customers (be they patients or passengers) may be inconvenienced in the interest of safety. Patients with communicable diseases are quarantined against their will in the interest of public health and law abiding individuals with no criminal records are routinely searched just because they have chosen to fly on an airliner.

      I respect Seth’s sentiment about interrupting (and therefore inconveniencing) our customers; but I agree with Jaime that there is more to the story. While I don’t think “snow globe” communication qualifies as a value-added activity, it may fall into the category of “wasteful, but temporarily necessary”. But I could be wrong. 😀

      Bob H

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