The Vacation Paradox

Sunshine Daydreams

You’re 48 hours away from that dream vacation you’ve waited all year for. Soon the ocean breeze will calm your soul and wisp away any worries of your day-to-day life while your toes bask in the warm sand and Bob Marley tracks play in the background. But wait, remember you still have 48 hours left, which means two full days of work and a ton of stuff to get done! –Enter the Vacation Paradox.

Suddenly an urgency to itemize and strategically plan your remaining tasks before you leave comes to the forefront of your activities. You feel a need to accomplish your tasks in an orderly fashion in order to not leave behind any troubles for others to deal with while your gone.

David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture, describes this feeling as the Vacation Paradox phenomenon. That is, the ability to break down your day with a feeling of suddenly having more time in your day to do more, to work on improvement steps and accomplish your normal business activities

For those that embrace this time with a cool head instead of jolting into panic mode is key to not only the Vacation Paradox, but in your overall improvement as well. Mann believes that these “pre-vacation” times allow us to get a lot more done at home and at work than usual because you are using your time more efficiently.

There is a lot more time to get small things done when they are clearly identified and scoped and there is reason to get them done.

-The Vacation Paradox

Capacity For Improvement

The capacity to use this time in such an efficient manner has always been there. The motivation is what was lacking. The vision of the vacation and the desire to “leave your troubles behind,” allows us to tap into this capacity we seldom use. Sustaining this sudden boost in improvement and efficiency is exactly what it takes to be a lean guru.

So how do we tap into this capacity for our day-to-day improvement?

By reinforcing process focus and driving improvement, daily accountability actually creates increased capacity for improvement via the vacation paradox.

-David Mann, Creating a Lean Culture

Daily Improvement is Possible

Mann’s Vacation Paradox phenomenon connects the value in time management and the results that come of it. The difference in leaders that have a focus on their time management and accountability and those that don’t makes a major difference in your lean growth.

The ability to build new capacities and act on the ones we’ve untapped are crucial to your lean culture and continuous improvement. The impact leaders and supervisors in a value stream can make in as little as 20-30 minutes a day is huge in the improvement process.

We underestimate the value of small daily improvements and sometimes get caught up putting out major fires instead. Don’t get me wrong putting out the fires is extremely important and necessary to a successful operation, but setting aside a little bit of time every day might help put out the fires before they start.

As this becomes a daily habit, your ability to sustain lean principles and provide continuous improvement to your organization will grow.

Additional Resources