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Thursday, September 23, 2010

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

This is a great story about the unseen value that many companies overlook when working with outside firms. Our own company constantly battles with organization's lack of understanding of the value of knowledge and experience over the raw metric of "Cost per Man Hour". Being disciples of QBQ, we understand that their lack of understanding is a result of us not being as good as we need to be in getting them to understand the value. So with QBQ in mind, I found this story to help illustrate our point.

The story goes that a complex machine has stopped working shutting an entire assembly line down. Every hour that goes by the company is losing thousands of dollars. After many hours of trying to get the machine working again, the plant manager calls in an outside expert (consultant/engineer) to assess the situation (I've heard this story ascribed to lots of people, including Henry Ford...anyway...) So the expert comes in, walks around the machine, looks at the dials and screens, and finally asks to borrow a hammer. With one swift and decisive tap of the hammer the machine fires right up. Relieved, the plant manager thanks the expert profusely and asks the expert to send the invoice right away. When it arrives there is a single line item charge of $1,000. The manager immediately calls up the expert and demands to know why hitting the machine should be worth $1000?! The expert acknowledges the concern and agrees to revise the invoice. The new invoice arrives with two line items: Hitting machine with hammer: $10. Knowing where to hit the machine: $990.

One of our mantra's is that the cheapest solution is rarely the least expensive solution.

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