207 – Good Operations: List & Complete Vision

Less organized cultures tend to think of getting things done as “hard, passionate work”. This idea may be common in a poorer part of town or in developing nations. It generally goes hand-in-hand with the idea that “being angry” as a parent means the parent is “serious” and therefore “responsible”. None of this is true. Being “angry” does not make one more in-charge; having all rules memorized while acting calm does.

The way to get things done well is to have a complete list, both on paper and in mind. Do everything according to the list—both to-do items and procedural rules—and the job will be done perfectly. This doesn’t require any passion or desperation or “hard-working” attitude.

A good work ethic works hard and with a purpose, but that isn’t what makes the work quality. Hard work simply makes the work happen. Whether the work is accomplished with quality depends on whether it was done to specification.

This is a problem in the manufacturing third-world where high-maintenance Western consumers look for features and factors that developing nations don’t even know exist, let alone matter.

Consider Vietnam. When a grandfather was young and went farming to feed his family, but blew his leg off on a land mine because an American president died and a vice president took over, presuming the right to start a war neither nation wanted. He grew up not being able to walk, so things around the house never got done. The concept of “finished” had been literally blasted to bits for his family. They raised kids with dangers and hazards in the house, but the house was considered safe because it didn’t have any land mines. When the eight year old grandson goes to school, he doesn’t have time to think about whether he has folding or patch pockets on his shorts. So, as an adult working in a clothing factory, he might overlook that detail on the product specification—10,000 times. It is the responsibility of the West to help him learn.

Envisioning the resulting product and managing its list of specs are the keys to good operations. Learn these yourself and help everyone else understand them better.