Canadian Manufacturing

Manufacturing Automation: Industry watch: Achieving valuable outcomes with meaningful busyness

by Paul Hogendoorn   

Manufacturing Automation
Manufacturing Operations Research & Development human resources Manufacturing Research

Most of us say we are too busy and we think that we yearn for a less demanding workload, but the truth is that’s not how most people are wired.


Many years ago, a person I have immense respect for said to me, “If you want to get something important done, ask a busy person”. I instantly recognized the truth of that statement, but I can’t say it fit me too well. I was indeed a busy person, and I did get things done, but I continually operated at a level of unrelenting frenetic busyness and the cost of getting important things done was often misunderstandings, hard feelings and sometimes fractured relationships. Upon completion of the task, when I felt that we should be cheering our accomplishment – i.e., slapping backs and clinking glasses – there were scars that needed tending to, but no time to slow down for that as there were other important things waiting to be done. Being busy doing important things is not just a full-time job, it is an addiction.

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine had just been hired to turn around and save a long-running manufacturing business in my area. They employed a couple hundred people, and their financial runway was incredibly short – one payroll period, or two weeks. Long story short, he succeeded and stayed for about five years, and the company continues to operate successfully to this day. The most amazing thing about watching him work, however, was how little work he seemed to do. He would often be out of the office, not working, but at charity golf tournaments or on mini-long weekend vacations with his wife. One morning when I was in his plant, I mentioned that me and a few buddies were riding up to Manitoulin Island later in the week, and without hesitation, he said, “Sounds great. Mind if I join you?”

This article originally featured in Manufacturing Automation. Read the full version here.



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