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The dinner plate manufacturer.

A manufacturer of dinner plates had a problem in the packing department. 

The plates were packed in boxes with old newspapers. Every packer would eventually slow down to read the papers and look at the pictures. Most employees would drop to about 30 per cent efficiency. The managers tried several incentives to keep the workers focused, but after several hours or days, most employees would pick up reading the paper.

During a brainstorming session, specifically called to solve the problem, the managers came up with several options and solutions: 

a) change the language of the newspapers – but where would they get these papers in the quantities that they needed ? 

b) Use other materials – but newspapers were free and they did not have the budget to buy alternative materials.

c) Award incentive schemes for the number of plates wrapped – already tried but found in practice that it did not work and created other problems in the longer run.

Then one manager suggested , “ What if we poked out the eyes of the packers?” Although the suggestion sounded ridiculous, it eventually led to the idea of hiring blind people !! 

The blind packers easily did the job without being distracted, and the company also provided a valuable service to the community.


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