from our weekly newsletter, The Visual Thinker

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The Invisible Enemy Part 5 of 8. Read Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

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Across the past several issues, we have been examining motion/moving without working, the foot print of the invisible enemy—missing information. Added up, motion—in all its thousand and perverse forms—can steal 10% to 15% to 30% of our usable work day. Its impact is huge. We know the cure: Replace recurrent questions with visual answers and motion dissolves because info deficits disappear. Do this by implementing visual workplace technologies and the gain is company-wide.

To conquer motion, we need to understand it even better than we do now and go beyond the power of info deficits to trigger struggle in the guise of seemingly innocent interruptions. In this issue, I widen our definition of motion so you gain insight into the more deeply-hidden triggers of motion—those tied directly to the physical work environment—and a work location I call the value field.

  • The wider definition of motion: Motion is anything you have to do or you cannot do your workbut it is not your work.
  • And an explanation of the term value field: Your value field is the actual physical location where you do your work.
  • And let’s take this moment to also define work, so there’s no guessing. Work means: moving and adding value.
Brown-Onion-PNG-imageSo that means that motion is moving and not adding value. Yes, motion is the opposite of work. And when and where do you add value? When—and only when—you are in your value field. As we peel back the layers, like skin on an onion, we see the connection between these three elements—motion, value field, and work—is as exact as it is useful. And here’s another layer: there are two types of value field: a single primary value field—and several secondary value fields (functions that support your primary work). Here’s an example.

The surgeon’s primary value field: the patient.

The surgeon’s primary value field: the patient.

What is the primary value field of a surgeon? If you say the Operating Room, you are only partly right. Think of this: Even though the surgeon’s instruments are in the OR along with vital life support equipment, the surgeon’s primary value field is not exactly the OR. Her prime value field is: the patient on the operating table. All other OR functions support that; they are indispensable but still secondary.
If you are an assembler and work on a bench, you are in motion the moment you leave it because your bench is your primary value field.So think about this as you determine your own primary and secondary value fields. The difference between the two clears up over time as you practice. Once defined, your prime value field becomes a powerful anchor point for pinpointing and measuring your motion. Why? Because any time you leave your value field, you are automatically in motion—because you cannot do your work.

  • If you are a machinist, you are instantly in motion the moment you physically move away from the machine because your machine is your primary value field.
  • If you are a manager…well, we’ll discuss that in a later issue of The Visual Thinker.

Track your motion based on your value field. Here are three tools or ways to calculate your motion.

  1. Clip on a pedometer each time you leave your value field—and take off when you return. The number at the end of the shift may surprise, even shock you. It motivated Janette Simone, who traveled 6.7 miles in a single shift. (I didn’t believe it either—but she clocked just about the same three days running.).
  2. Use a stopwatch the same way. Turn it on when you leave/turn it off when you return. Buzz Alder clocked 2.5 hours outside his primary value field in a single shift. “No wonder I can ever get my work done,” he said in amazement.
  3. Use a memo pad (maybe the same as you used last week for tracking interruptions). Track frequency: the number of times you leave your value field. Six times a day? Nope, more like 16. Or in Mary Beal’s case, 26. Note the reasons!

Do your own study, using your value field as the anchor point. Become a scientist of motion. If you are a manager or supervisor, enlist two or three volunteers to take this on. The invisible enemy is sneaky and you need powerful weapons to wrestle it to the ground. Are you ready? Let’s go!! Let the workplace speak!