I was listening to a guy talking about making cities better. He described how cities let big things sometimes get in the way of getting anything done.

This was the example. Kids like playing in spraying water, especially when the weather’s hot. We’ve seen the splash pads. Amusement parks have them. Expensive parks have them. The systems are cool. Well-plumbed. Sometimes they have colored lights to make them look cooler still. But they’re costly to install and maintain, so sometimes parks do without splash pads because there is no money.

From time to time, when money is short, or decision-making gets delayed, along comes the “water hose” solution. Hook up the water hoses when it’s hot, turn them on, and let the kids play. The system isn’t as grand. It’s a bit awkward to implement because it’s not permanent. But it accomplishes the task.

I am guessing that sometimes we don’t do things because money is limited, decisions are slow, or concepts are unproven. Sometimes our folks don’t let that stop them.

In Bartow recently, a saw system threw off so much sawdust that it slowed production and caused frequent stoppages for cleanup. One of our operators, Ignacio Cuevas, started thinking about the saw.

He noticed that much of the sawdust came through openings around the outfeed. He reasoned that if we could guard that opening differently, we could cut back on spilled sawdust. Downtime would be lessened.

He wanted to try his assumption out. He took cardboard, cut it to size, and fit it around the opening and it achieved the results he was trying to prove.

He didn’t ask permission. He didn’t spend any money. He just thought about the hassle, used his knowledge to devise a potential fix, and tried it.

Now, a more permanent solution is in the works. “Lean” involves identifying hassles, conceiving potential solutions, and arriving at ways to improve them. When we can’t afford them, we try alternatives that will enhance things.

I believe in solutions, whether they are “cardboard” or “water hoses.” Keep trying. Keep inventing. That’s what “lean” is about.