My favorite story about waste: the ARS

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 01-19-11

This may be my favorite story about waste elimination…


As part of his company’s policy, Bill had to manually fill out his timecard each week.  On that time card was a column titled ARS.  When Bill started, he was taught to just put a zero in the ARS column each time, just as everyone else did. Eventually, Bill started to ask “what is ARS, and why is it always zero?” This is waste.

The answer was ARS stood for Air Raid Siren. During World War II, the company wanted to track the productivity loss every time the air raid siren went off the all the employees had to go into the lower level. And even though they’ve redesigned the time card, and certainly reprinted it many times, the ARS column remained.

The lesson: waste doesn’t get eliminated until someone asks why is it there!

What’s your ARS? Where is there waste in your organization that only exists because no one has challenged it? And what’s stopping you now?