Oh Common Sense Where Are You?


I am a process person.  I can come into a situation and know almost immediately where the bottlenecks are and where a step is missing or should be eliminated.  I am not an Industrial Engineer, or an engineer of any kind, I am just a person that applies common sense to situations.   But when did common sense no longer become the norm in our lives?  When did we lose touch with our God-given intuition and let everything get out of hand?

Wikipedia says that common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.”Thus, “common sense” (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way”

So here is where I think we lost it.

  1. America – Land of Lawsuits:  We are such a litigious society that we have eliminated the need for common sense in everything we do.  Examples:  Don’t drink the hot coffee when it is 1000 degrees; or, don’t put your hand in the blender when it is running; or my personal favorite, wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.  Come on people – really?  Businesses and corporations are so scared of lawsuits that they have to think of every stupid thing we could possibly do and warn us against it on their packaging.  But are we reading the instructions?
  2. The Blame Game:   We are no longer responsible for our choices or actions.  Whatever we do in life: watch TV, play video games, overeat, smoke, drink; you name it, if we are harmed in any way as a consequence of our own choices, we immediately seek to find someone else to blame and it works!  (see #1)
  3. Lean:  I worked for a large corporation for about eight years that decided to implement Lean Manufacturing.  Lean as a concept is phenomenal and there is nothing wrong with it, as a matter of fact, I believe that every company, regardless of size, product or service can and should implement Lean processes in some way, shape or form.  The problem with Lean is that we jump into implementation and lose sight of our customers, strategic goals and long-term plans in an effort to implement money saving and time saving techniques.  This often comes at the expense of employee morale and when your employees aren’t happy they are not productive no matter how many steps you eliminate or how much money you save.  That corporation that had been in business since the 60’s is closing its doors for good in December.  They lost sight of the big picture, their customers and employees in an effort to implement Lean principles.  But will they take responsibility for it? (see #2)

OK – so what makes me qualified to even talk about this?  I am not an academic.  I am actually the complete opposite of that.  A high school graduate educated in the ways of life by service in the military, with a few college courses under my belt and A LOT of work experience.  That work experience in many different industries is what has made me the process person I am today and honed my ability to get to the heart of an opportunity for improvement.   When it is all said and done, I may be a 75 year old great-grandmother before I am able to get my bachelor’s degree, but maybe I don’t need it right now.  Maybe my role in life is to help entrepreneurs and companies discover or uncover the common sense in their businesses.  I am sure I won’t be able to fix the problems I mentioned above by myself, but I will try to get the word out – one organization at a time.

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