One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case
of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest
cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer
had bought a soap box that was empty.
Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line,
which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery
department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly
Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste,
the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-
resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap
boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty.
No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent
whoopee amount to do so. But when a workman was posed with the same
problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but instead
came out with another solution.
He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the
assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan,
it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Moral of the story: Always look for simple solutions. Devise the simplest
possible solution that solves the problem. So, learn to focus on solutions
not on problems. "If you look at what you do not have in life, you don't
have anything; if you look at what you have in life, you have everything.
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