Saturday, October 17, 2015

Airlines too can teach Lean and philosophy!

Airlines can make you more mature looks like!  On my recent return trip to India, one of the famous airlines made me think about a few different things

I could carry 64 kilos of checked in baggage and 7 kilos of carry on in addition to my laptop bag, handbag and a personal item. I needed only about 30 kilos worth items including the chocolates and sweets I bought; however, a few of my friends wanted some items from North America and the total weight I checked in was about 50 kilos and I had my laptop bag, handbag and a carry on bag.

The story was good till the time I reached Detroit airport. The airlines told me that they can not check me thru to Chennai as their partnership with the other airlines does not exist anymore; they said I have to claim the bags in my next stop and check them back in. I did not have a choice and time to manage it differently; had to accept it. At the next stop, I realised that they do not have trolleys  and I have to walk for about 15 mins with all these baggage - three trolley bags, a laptop bag and a handbag! Officials there simply said that they were not a very convenient / friendly airport and apologised. That was very helpful!  For the first time, I was appreciating and scolding myself for the choice of my luggage - all the bags can stroll on four wheels, they move freely in any directions with a little push and my laptop bag was a backpack; the only annoyance was my handbag - I would have carried a belt-pouch otherwise! Fortunately, I could dump that on top of the strollers.

Did I say it was 15 mins walk?!? It would have taken so long if I walked without any of the items listed! It took more than 25 mins and it felt like a decade of walking!!! By the time I reached the right counter, I was dead tired and in deep thoughts!

 I was wondering, just because I was allowed to carry so much, should I have planned for so much? I was thinking of the people who I checked with if they need any thing from the US. They would not have felt bad if I had not checked with them. What made me do this? Is it resource / capacity utilisation? Should a Lean practitioner be thinking of utilisation so much? Hmm.. an important principle broken was yielding its result!

As a person, I do not like to carry weight and I prefer to keep my hands free while traveling. Just the opposite was happening! I was responsible neither for the broken partnership between the airlines nor for the missing  trolleys in the airport; But I was hit by them!!! Vinoba Bhave is said to have explained the true spirit of renunciation as not only renouncing what you like but also accepting something you do not like too! In the recent past I have been thinking of life as a process that makes us numb to many things. Maybe, this was one more experience towards that!! I became too philosophical :-)

The 30 kilos of my luggage included some items that I never used. Some of them were essentials; at the same time, I am glad that I did not have to use them. They were like the "code associated with disaster recovery plans". (You are happy that they are there and you are also happy that you did not have to invoke that part of the code :-) :-)!!) But some items  were pure "just in case" and some for just remembrance - things I could not let go!   I was thinking of my plans for my old-age. Many of them are "just in case"! In Tamil there is a saying "அதனினும் கொடிது முதுமையில் செல்வம்". Hmm…

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