It’s just a rubber band. Really?! Is your strategy being compromised by your behaviour?

Published by tim-isherwood on

Every morning I take my dog, Sam, for a walk. During the walk we have to travel along about 500 yards of road before we get to open countryside and almost everyday we pick up rubber bands along that 500 yards. The five in the picture have been picked up over the last three days.

These rubber bands are dropped by the person delivering post for the Royal Mail and I am sure that their view is that “it’s just a rubber band”.

I find these rubber bands irritating for a number of reasons:

  • they litter the street,
  • they are difficult to get rid of
  • shouldn’t the postie be reusing them?
  • when the Post Office want to increase the price of a stamp I know that they have very little idea of costs (if they did they would reuse their rubber bands) and
  • I object to supporting a company that has such a high level of disrespect for its customer base.

Above everything else, these rubber bands provide an insight into the strategy of the Royal Mail. Without looking at their accounts or listening to any commentary about their performance you suspect that this is a company that may struggle, whose strategy probably does not function well.

Toyota have a word for this and it is contained in what they describe as their 4 S’s: The 4 S’s collectively mean the maintenance of an orderly, clean and efficient working environment. The corresponding Japanese:English terms are: Seiri : Sifting, Seiton : Sorting, Seiso : Sweeping, and Seiketsu : Spick and Span. Sometimes a fifth S in Japanese is added: Shitsuke meaning workplace discipline.

These rubber bands, found by the roadside, can be seen to be contary to Seiketsu, meaning that a Spick and Span work place is not a priority for the Royal Mail. It is the smallest things that you do, that can have the biggest impact on your strategy. It isn’t just a rubber band – this demonstrates a mindset.

If you are unable to cope with the basics what chance have you of delivering at a higher level?

Next time you see a rubber band think about how long a parcel takes to be delivered, how long the person at the sorting office takes to find that letter, which couldn’t be delivered because it needs a signature.

But also think about your own workplace: are you allowing practices that mean your performance will be impeded? Do you make sure everything is spick and span? Is the mindset of you and those you work with in the right place?


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