A War on Two Fronts
I’d like to report that things at home had settled down and that my only
concerns were at work, but that would be untrue, and hey, I am all about
transparency, right?
One of the rst things the hospital did was to take a hair sample from
Joyce. ey tested it and the test revealed that Joyce had been using drugs
for at least six months, which we were told, meant that she had a serious
I checked with our insurance company. e policy covered drug
treatment and rehabilitation, for twelve weeks. e hospital was telling
us that it would take that long before she’d get released to a halfway
house. Of course, we had brought Joyce in voluntarily, rather than
thecourt mandating that she be admitted. at would mean that we’d
have to make the decision to send her to the halfway house when that
Bridget was now numb and detached all the time. I was used to someone
who had apassion for life and a zest about the way she lived. It felt like I
was married to someone who was the black-and-white analog of my full-
color wife. It was heartbreaking.
Of course, I didnt have time to have a broken heart. I had a child in drug
rehabilitation, a wife who was a mere shell of herself, a son who needed
me now more than ever, and a business to run. Oh, and did I mention
that Iwas racing a clock I couldn’t see that was keeping track of when Sal
would remove me?
I couldnt aord to take medications for all the stress. Someone had to
keep their head screwed on straight.
Jim Jr. and I were spending a lot of time out of the house. We went
go-kart racing and to batting cages and to miniature golf and anything
120 Sustainable Lean: e Story of a Cultural Transformation
else I could gure out to keep our minds diverted. We still talked a lot,
even about Bridget and Joyce. I never talked about work, though.
I’d see him to bed at 9:00 p.m, then do any homework I’d brought home.
Corporate had sent in someone to act in Phils behalf. He spent a lot of
time asking questions and needing guidance. What a role reversal. It made
me be all the more pissed at Phil for betraying me as he had.
Frank was the only good thing happening in my life. He and Dale had
completed the Value Stream Map that Dale had begun. eyd reviewed it
with the Lean Council and shown them how to use it.
“Working back from the customer,” Frank had said, “you want to open
the pipeline so that parts ow faster.” He put both his arms out straight
in front of him and spread them vertically, imitating an opening of some-
thing or other.
“Most folks mistakenly go for the place where they have the biggest
problem, but think back to the airplane game. What was our biggest
“Jim,” came the universal reply. We all got a chuckle before Frank gath-
ered us back in.
“So, if station 3 was the biggest problem, what would have happened had
you solved the problem there? Answer: youd have raced through station
3 only to have been caught at station 4, which was only slightly faster. You
still wouldnt have met Takt Time or gotten planes to the customer any
“No,” he continued, “youve got to work your way backward from the
customer. Youll recall that we actually solved the problem at station
4 at the same time we solved station 3. at way, any corrections you
made elsewhere would ow right through to the customer. at remains
true until Takt Time gets lower than the cycle time at stations 3 and 4.
en, you’ll have to go back and re-Kaizen stations 3 and 4 again. Make
ere were thoughtful nods around the table.
So, armed with the knowledge of the completed Value Stream Map
(VSM), Frank and Dale had rst gone to the Finished Goods Inventory
(FGI) warehouse. ere, they set up something Frank called a supermarket.
A supermarket, in this case, was nothing more than specic locations for
every product we shipped. at product, and only that product, got put in
that location every time.
Justine had been successful in convincing our customers that it was
intheir best interest to get weekly shipments of product, so Frank, Dale,

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