7 reasons why slow is smooth, and smooth is fast

“if it’s like watchin paint dry… the good news is your house is done!”

I was thinking about this phrase, “watching paint dry” the other day, and wondering, why is it stands for something that is so boring. From a construction perspective, can you imagine putting those final coats of paint on the house you just completed – that’s not boring that rewarding! You step back to admire your work. And as you’re standing there, you begin to think back to all of the work of generating the original idea and then carrying it out all the way through to completion. Certainly watching the paint dry is not as exciting compared to all the other experiences of researching, drafting, crafting and finishing the work.

Our gambrel-style office barn project

My son Pierce and I are close to this stage with the “Office Barn Project”. We’ve completed the lion’s share of the work and only have a few things left to do. I’m sure that in a few weeks we will be painting the outside, and I’m sure we will be sitting on the front porch and enjoying a cup of sweet tea as we watch the paint dry. Sure we will be glad we suffered through it, endured to the end, and conquered something that seemed pretty intimidating at first, but after that glass of tea is done we’ll both agree that it’s time for something new!

Here are 7 things during this project that we were reminded of that apply to most craftsmen type projects, but more importantly have huge impact on craftsmen type processes. We came back to these early and often when we were manufacturing yarn for our business Morning Star Fiber. Take a few minutes to watch the paint dry on each of these and how they might apply in your business

  1. Rush is wrong every time – We often think that a little extra effort will speed things up, but inevitably we lose focus & concentration. This leads to missing something that costs ourselves valuable time, resources or both. The most productive people month in month out are the folks who get 2-3 things done a day.
  2. Good process needs to be researched & spelled out – clear & direct – Creating how work flows through a system, we are able to clarify exactly what gets done at each step, this allows things to become repeatable process and keeps things from being nebulous and indirect which always takes much longer.
  3. Following a specific path takes an amount of time that is measurable – this allows us to collect user data for a process and develop what is called takt, cycle & lead times for a process.
  4. Fixed times can be properly scheduled, predicted & managed – knowing how much demand your customers create, the kind of value they demand, and the reality of the equipment and process you have creates expectations for your labor force.
  5. Skipping a step always assumes risks – Often we look for places where we can cut corners, thinking that this will save us time in the end. However, we often get close to the end and realize that something early on that was skipped was critical to quality later down the line, and now will require going all the way back and fixing it, and typically redoing everything in between. It’s a defect in manufacturing and is discarded but in custom work, you don’t get the luxury of discarding.
  6. Risk adds stress – To the degree to which we have allowed risk to escalate it tends to break down the process and hinder communication among your staff, this always costs more in time and resources – aren’t you getting tired just thinking about it.
  7. Getting it right the first time – taking your time allows for correct decisions to be made at critical to quality moments, and ensures that it’s going to get done the right way.

In a future post, we will talk about some of the reasons why this project took 4 months longer than we had projected.

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