I got this from an unknown source, and found it very interesting.
A toothpaste factory had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty boxes without the tube inside. This challenged their perceived quality with the buyers and distributors. Understanding how important the relationship with them was, the CEO of the company assembled his top people. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem. The project followed the usual process: budget allocated, RFP, and third-parties selected.
Six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, and high quality. Everyone in the project was pleased.
Engineers solved the problem by using a high-tech precision scale that would sound a bell whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and then press a button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes were being shipped out of the factory.
With no more customer complaints, the CEO felt the $8 million was well spent. He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections, however, the next three weeks it was zero! The estimated rate should have been at least a dozen boxes a day. He had the engineers check the equipment. They verified the report as accurate.
Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory, viewed the part of the line where the precision scale was installed, and observed just ahead of the new $8 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. He asked the line supervisor what that was about.
“Oh, that,” the supervisor replied, “Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang.”
Isn’t that desk fan an ingenious solution to the problem?
I wonder if we might have similar situations in education and learning, where a simple solution costing very little might have provided a superior solution to one costing lots of money.
Another example: The space pencil.
You might come up with a more cost effective solution to my previous post on what makes a good education system and a good teacher.
What do you see are some possible cost-effective solutions to education and learning?