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An interesting story from James Lawther:

…During the second world war over 60 million people were killed.  That was roughly 3% of the world-wide population.  It was a hazardous time.

Among the hardest hit were the bomber crews.  The Eighth Air Force suffered half of all the U.S. Air Force’s casualties.  The British fared as badly.  The chances of surviving the war as a member of the RAF’s bomber command were only marginally better than even.

If flying bombing raids wasn’t dangerous enough, landing when you returned home was also fraught with danger.  Pilots of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress had a series of runway crashes, accidentally retracting the landing gear when they touched down.

…Accident investigators blamed these incidents on pilot (or human) error.  There was no obvious mechanical failure.

It wasn’t only Flying Fortresses that had the problem.  There were stories of pilots of P-17 Thunderbolts and B-25 Mitchells making the same mistake.

Nobody would deliberately retract the landing gear when they were still hurtling across the tarmac.  Why the pilots did so was anybody’s guess.  Perhaps the pilot’s attention wandered when they realized they were almost home.

…The authorities asked Alphonse Chapanis,  a military psychologist to explain the behavior.  He noticed that the accidents only happened to certain planes and not others.  There were thousands of C-47 transport planes buzzing about.  Their pilots never suffered from such fatal inattention.

After inspecting the cockpits of the different planes the cause became clear.  On B-17s the controls for the flaps and undercarriage were next to one another.  They also had the same style of handle.   Pilots who retracted the undercarriage when the wheels were on the ground were actually trying to retract the flaps. They just pulled the wrong lever.

In the C-47 the two controls were very different and positioned apart from each other.

The solution: Once he identified the cause Chapanis developed an equally simple solution.  Circular rubber disks were stuck to the levers for the undercarriage and triangles were stuck to the levers for the flaps.  When a pilot touched the rubber, he felt the difference and the crashes stopped…The pilots were well aware of which lever to pull.  It was “human error” that caused the mistake.  But laying the blame on the pilots wasn’t ever going to solve that.

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We all make mistakes.  It is in our nature.  Don’t fight it, fix it.

 

End

 

The original post – unfortunately no way to reblog – may be read here.

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OhMindRelaxPlease_0000

Last Sunday I was spending time in a small library attached to a Hindu Temple, waiting for my daughter to finish her lecture and join me. A few shelves of religious/spiritual books, magazine racks, a long table at the center with chairs around, a librarian’s counter on entry to the right and a small office room in a far corner. The ubiquitous sign admonishing all to maintain strict silence hung on the inside and above the entrance.

 

I selected two books for perusal: Oh MIND Relax Please (OMRP) by Swami Sukhabodananda (SS) and a book of VIkramaditya-Vetal stories. Found a few interesting stories/anecdotes in OMRP that I made notes of. Here’s short one that I liked:

A Zen monk was on his death-bed. All his disciples thronged around him, in sorrow. They asked, `Master! What is your last sermon?’

The monk, instead of replying to their question, asked for a sweet. When the sweet was brought, he looked at it with elation, like a small child. He then ate it, bit by bit, fully savoring its taste, tapping his hands rhythmically. Thereafter, he simply died…

And there were more that I hope to bring in here in the time ahead.

As I was scribbling my notes from the book, I heard a thud. Right in front of me, the lone library staff manning the counter had lifted a pile of books out of a carton letting the empty carton freely drop to the floor. That was the thud. Not done with it yet, he kicked the carton to the nearest wall and turning around plonked the pile of books on the counter-top. You well know a pile doesn’t stay plonked without cascading down. And books are no cats in landing on the floor elegantly and noiselessly. It took a while for the startled readers to resume where they had left off.

I looked up at the stern message hanging over the entrance to check if it exempted the library staff from its demand.

Surrounded by shelves of books, can’t blame the man (library staff) if the monk’s message had not reached him:

(in SS’s words) “Eating a sweet is a very ordinary affair. Even that should be done with total involvement and relish. This was the last message that the monk wished to convey.”

Years ago, I stayed for a short time at a small place in Gloucester and commuted to work by the Underground. Lifts were available at this station to reach down 3 or 4 levels. This middle-aged man made an indelible impression on me that has lasted till date. Unwearily he operated one of those lifts standing on his feet all day. At every stop, he would dutifully caution the passengers lost in their thoughts to be mindful of the gap as they stepped in/out. And there were gaps enough to catch the unwary. His message would ring loud – not too loud – and clear for all to hear, even if he had an audience of just one. All unsupervised, unaudited by any ISO certified. Did it matter if he was not doing it with a dance? I was young and shy to talk to him on what he thought about it – an opportunity I lost.

Coming back to the plain and simple message from the monk, seriously, it’s strange the management gurus/life-coaches/mind-scientists haven’t yet grabbed it with two hands as an operating principle to cure many societal/personal ills.

Any alternative would be too dreary to live by. What do you think?

End

PS: In hindsight, I hold him (the lift operator) as a humble but thoroughly inspiring example and embodiment of: ‘Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana…’ (B. Gita 2.47)

 

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On a certain December day, on platform 22 in Tokyo Central Station, a work unit clad in the red uniforms of Tessei Co (formerly known as Tetsudo Seibi Co Ltd) line up with military precision. A bullet train on the Tohoku shinkansen pulls in, and the workers, at the given signal, step aboard and hastily go about their work. The time is 16:56, and in just 12 minutes, the same train, designated Yamabiko-Tsubasa No. 147, will depart. Since five minutes of the 12 must be allowed for passengers to disembark and board, the cleanup crew has just seven minutes to perform their tasks.

Normally, notes Shukan Post (Dec 21-28), two to three workers are assigned to a first-class car, as opposed to one to clean up a regular car. In addition to checking for items left behind on the overhead racks and seats, they must flip the 100 seat backs in each car to make them face the front of the train, and while doing this, they scan the aisles and floor for any refuse, a task generally performed in roughly one minute, 30 seconds.

They then proceed to wipe off the table tops in front of each seat and adjust the window blinds. If any of the white covers on seat backs appear begrimed, these are exchanged for clean ones.

At the two-minute warning, they turn their attention to emptying the waste receptacles between cars. They also team up with other staff, whose task is to tend to the lavatories and washrooms. After a final check of all assigned jobs on their list, they assemble outside on the platform and bow in unison toward the passengers awaiting boarding.

“Ideally we get seven minutes, but when the train’s crowded, it takes passengers longer to disembark, and it’s rare for us to be able to get in the entire alloted time,” says Akio Yabe, Tessei’s senior vice president. “So we try to get the job done as quickly as possible.”

…But as Yabe puts it, “There’s more to it than just cleaning the trains. If the cleanup takes too long, the shinkansen trains will be delayed. So part of our job is to keep the trains running on time.

And a big job it is. Each day from Tokyo station’s four platforms, a total of 210 trains pull in and depart, with average intervals of four minutes. Each team of 22 Tessei workers cleans an average of 120 trains per day, and at times of peak demand, it might handle as many as 168.

Currently, Tessei’s work force numbers about 800, of whom 481 are full-timers. The average age of the work force is 51; about 40% are female.

…”

An amazing orchestra-like performance day after day from a work-force not pampered in any ways! Honest, visible and verifiable in public.

Well, this has drawn world-wide attention just like our own dabbawaala’s in Mumbai.

Should be part of the induction program at least in the airlines sector.

It brings into sharp focus once again the avowed Japanese culture and ethics  and inimitable process efficiencies at work-place. Reminds me of an old film wherein a factory-shift begins at 8-00 and the work-men are in their overall’s at their station with jobs mounted and tools in position all set to go by 8-00! Of course signing the muster included.

Besides, the story is an outstanding example of brand building. Note how even a non-core process could be made the subject of a story.

Leaves you thirsting for stories such as this from nearer home.

Going to be a long wait?

End

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Source: japantoday.com

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