Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lean in the Bathroom

Now that I've got your attention it is nothing that your were thinking about.  The truth is I was grouting the downstairs bathroom and the sin of big batches caught me out.  There I am gung-ho to get things done and underestimating how much work is involved.  Does that sound familiar?  So I get started right in the middle of the tiling.  A few minutes later and I'm feeling the pressure I have just put myself under.

By starting slap right in the middle I am now committed to having to complete the biggest surface all in one go.  And I'm hurting, I'm learning as I'm going on.  I don't know if the grout is mixed right, is it too thick, too thin or have I got it right.  Am I pushing it into the space between the tiles nicely.   When do I stop applying grout and wipe down the tiles, I know I am behind schedule.  Having bitten off the biggest batch I could, I'm taking longer than I want to apply the grout and the grout is drying out more than I want.  The low humidity here in Calgary is not helping.  By the time I get to wipe down the grout it is not an easy job, I really have to work at it.  I'm getting tired, concentration is going, quality is struggling.
Eventually I get the wall done, I take a break, refresh myself and start on the smallest wall.  I've learnt the applying process, I can control the rate I cover the wall.  I'm in control.  The quality of work is good, I'm happy with the work and not stressed.  Funny that.
Many lessons we have to learn many times.  The problem of big batches is one of the more counter intuitive ideas in Lean thinking and probably one that I will continue to come up against a few more times.

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