I was working in a facility that was having an issue with productivity on one of the lines. It was a U-shaped line with an Operator running both the depalletizer, think unloading of packages, and a palletizer, think taking finished packages and putting them on a skid or pallet. One of the first steps I take is go to the floor and talk to the operators about what is going on. I usually start with getting to know the employee and make sure they are at ease and develop through a few short conversations a certain level of candor so that I can get their prespective minus all the biases and extraneous stuff. So we hit it off great. Though he didn’t live near me or my family, we knew of each others neighborhoods and actually had been at some of the same places, mainly pizza joints, but that is beside the poinrt. I we discussing downtime and slow downs and I was asking him various things, like do you have quality issues with the packages, how does the equipment run, etc. I was trying to use more open questions than yes or no or fill in the blank and then I overstepped my bounds. If there is one thing that you could change about running this equipment what would it be? He answered instantly – I would like to be able to wear shorts. I left the area as quickly as social graces allowed. From this, I realized that thee are open questions and then there are open questions. Make sure the questions you ask are spacious enough to get answers that you may not have planned on but not so big that one can drive a bus through them.

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