Assumptions are a terrible thing. The title of this article might have taken you to thoughts of some sort of substance abuse. The actual content is far from that activity.
In our daily work we know (most) all of the details necessary to do our job function. But do we know what happens next? In our case, working with fresh produce to wash, sort, size, grade, slice, dice and pack it to customer specifications is the job at hand. But what does the worker in the plant know about the next step in the process. We found out that there was little or no awareness on the eventual use for the products that they created. Several years ago we organized a bus trip for a small group of the plant employees to visit a retail store and a couple of restaurants for a behind the scenes tour of each operation. Those who didn’t get to go on the first bus protested loudly, so we did it again. And again. It has become a tradition now to take the newest employees on this field trip to make the connection between what we do and what the next guy does with our finished product.
These trips out of the plant have clarified the role that we play in adding value to the food supply. Having firsthand knowledge of the next step in the process is key to getting things right at the previous step. Work method updates and continuous improvement ideas flow freely after each one of these trips. The cost of the trip is paid back several times over by the process knowledge gained by each of the participants.