Out Of The BOX Thinking
Sunny • onManagement 13 years ago • 1 min read

One of the most memorable case studies I came across with as I studied Japanese management at Sophia University in Tokyo was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies.

The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a box of soap that was empty. It immediately isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty. Management tasked its engineers to solve the problem.

Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast.

But a rank-and-file employee that was posed the same problem came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.


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