Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

September 2001

Raring to go

September is really the beginning of the year, isn't it?

The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year conditioned us as kids about the proper way to start again, turn over a new leaf, forge ahead and, most of all, learn new stuff. Recapture that spirit, for goodness' sake! Get your hair cut, buy some new clothes and straighten up your desk.

And, don't write your name in a book until you're sure you're not going to transfer.

Every September, I'm still raring to go. (Query: Is it possible to be "raring not to go"? How about just "raring?" Can you do that? Like someone says, "Where's Jack?" And, someone else says, "He's just sitting in his office, raring.")

I'm reminded of a fellow I met on a plane years ago. For some reason, he started telling me about this super manufacturing schedule he had his factory on. He'd cut the hours from 40 to 36 but picked up better than a 10 percent gain in production.

"How's it work?" I asked.

"First," he said "this is really important because this will give you nearly an hour and a half per employee per week without doing anything else. Go from a five-day week to a four-day week."

"That saves, how?"

"One less morning startup, one less evening shutdown, one less lunch and two fewer breaks."

"Then what?"

"Go from eight-hour days to nine.

"That still sounds like you're down to me," I said, trying to figure where he was going next.

"OK," he said. "What do Martin Luther King's Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran's Day have in common?"

"Monday?"

"Right, so when you go from five to four, don't come Monday. That way, you pick up six days at either eight or nine hours, depending on when you start figuring. So that's like 48 hours minimally which cuts your costs an hour a week once you count vacation time, right?"

It still didn't add up to me. "How did your folks like the cut in pay?"

"What cut?"

"You cut their hours from 40 to 36," I pointed out.

"Oh, heck, I give it back if they get to work on time. All they have to do is get to work. That, they control. Once they're at work, it's my problem. So, they get to work on time all week, they get the four hours' extra pay."

The seat belt sign went on and just when the conversation appeared to be over, he asked, "So, you want to know where the productivity gain comes from?"

"Sure."

"We work in teams and it takes a couple of hours for teams to get their rhythm. It's like this big truck. You've got to back it out, head the right way and go through all the gears to get it up to speed. Once it's rolling, oh boy!

"The way it works, we spend one less day getting up to speed and an hour more each day at full throttle."

I'm not sure this fellow's system would work everywhere but ever since that conversation I don't feel too bad if I don't get much done on Mondays except a little raring.