The Value of Teamwork

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

The CEO of a toothpaste factory was made aware of a growing problem: they were increasingly shipping empty boxes, without the tube inside. Concerned about customer satisfaction, the CEO assembled his top management team, which decided to hire an external engineering company to solve the problem.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months and $8 million later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. The solution included the use of high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop and someone had to walk over…remove the defective box…and then press a button to re-start the line.

A while later, the CEO requested an ROI report on the project. Amazing results! No empty boxes had shipped out of the factory, there were very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share.

Work hard to involve your team when looking for improvements. They have a wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to contribute.

“That’s some money well spent!” said the CEO…and then his eyes drifted to the other statistics in the report. As it turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales after 6 weeks was exactly “0″. It should have been picking up at least 300 each day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report?

The CEO re-submitted the report for further review, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was correct. The scales weren’t picking up any defects because there weren’t any. All the boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good!

Puzzled, the CEO made his way down to the factory and over to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed. A few feet before the scale there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin.

“Oh that,” said one of the workers when asked, “One of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of hearing the bell and pressing the button!”

Moral of the Story? Work hard to involve your team when looking for improvements. They have a wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to contribute.

About The Business Resource Centre:

BRC is a leading provider of training and consulting services in the areas of quality management, business systems and management skills. Each year thousands of individuals come to BRC to get the expertise, guidance and assistance they need to make their organizations run smoothly.

For more information on the BRC services, contact: Elizabeth Annis, Director The Business Resource Centre or visit the website:

This article was originally published in the BRC newsletter and has been produced with permission. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.