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Shop Talk

Making a trip to the store as enjoyable and efficient as possible


Ting Pan

Shopping Made Easy

I’ve been a quality professional since 2000. Five years later after I began, I was introduced to lean Six Sigma and fell in love. The sensei from Shingijutsu once told me not to bring kaizen home. Perhaps I’m a lousy student, but I didn’t follow his recommendation.

When I see any new idea or application on lean Six Sigma, I will discuss it with my wife. She has become absorbed in continuous improvement long enough to become a believer as well.

Recently, we visited IKEA in Shanghai to buy a small bed for our child. It was our first time in that IKEA. Before we went, my wife already had decided on three potential beds to consider buying. When we entered the mall, my wife stopped to look at the map. I asked, “Serrinna, why did you stop? We can follow the arrows on the ground.” She answered, “I’m looking at the map to know where the shortcuts are so we can get there sooner.” Which brings to mind: When we are given a task, how many times do we simply move ahead without understanding the whole picture and planning accordingly?

In five minutes, we got to the IKEA bedroom area and the three beds she liked the most. I asked, “Which one will you pick? The cheapest or the smallest?” She asked me to wait. She got our son onto the bed. He loves those small beds and played on them. Then she asked him, “Tin-Tin, which one do you like?” Little Tin-Tin cannot speak yet, but he pointed at the small black bed. My wife turned to me, “That’s the one we’re going to pick.” This made me think: How many times do we forget to ask about the customer’s true requirements before we move forward with misguided efforts?

We picked the black small bed, paid and got to the parking lot. I was a bit worried about how to get the bed home because I didn’t drive our bigger car. The car I drove was a tiny Ford Fiesta, and there wouldn’t be enough room.

“Why don’t we get it shipped? It is only 60 renminbis (about $10),” I said.

My wife suggested we open the package and rearrange the components. We did, and found the package had extra space because there were many inner filling foam pieces. When I removed them all, the subassemblies of the small bed were actually small, and I could easily put them into the car.

Very often, we don’t think outside the box and end up adopting inefficient methods with higher cost (time and money). By thinking in different ways and generating more ideas, the impossible will become possible.

When we finally got home and assembled the small black bed, little Tin-Tin happily jumped and danced on it. When the customer is happy, we feel happy. I gave my wife a big hug and joined my kid’s celebration.

—Ting Pan, senior manager of lean and Six Sigma, Flextronics Technology, Shanghai


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