Invest in Operational Proficiency Like Eddie Van Halen
What if you could play Eruption on the guitar like Eddie Van Halen simply by practicing for 10,000 hours? Or consistently play par golf with the same practice commitment?
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the ‘10,000-hour rule’ in his best-selling 2008 book Outliers. In the book, Gladwell poses that 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate practice’ at most skills will lead to world-class expertise. While provocative and easy to remember, this notion has been often challenged and debunked by other researchers like Frans Johansson who argue that not all practice is created equal, and that only highly structured environments support such causal relationships.
It is easier to argue, however, that the right quantity and quality of practice leads to better proficiency and improved performance.
10,000 Touches to Proficiency
Right around the time Gladwell was writing Outliers, Productiv leaders were collecting similar data in their own operation. The question we were trying to answer: how many ‘touches’ does it take to become proficient at a kitting or assembly task? Asked another way: how long until a new employee can be fully productive?
After collecting data for 1,000 projects, Productiv’s research determined that it takes 10,000 touches to reach 100% proficiency with a kitting or assembly task. In the fulfillment world, this task-level proficiency can be reached after one week or 40 hours — far less than the 10,000 hours it might take to master Van Halen’s riffs. Here is a chart showing our results.
Achieving Better ROI with Reliable and Proficient Workers
Training is an investment. If your fulfillment operation is using temp labor, it is important to track just how long new workers stay. Often, temp workers don’t return after the first few days which means you are constantly replacing learners with learners. This productivity shortfall multiplies across your team as Supervisors and other workers are constantly training new workers, or shifting tasks to accommodate for varying degrees of proficiency. When possible, use your own workforce or outsource to a partner with reliably trained and proficient workers to achieve the throughput and margins you need.
If you’re looking for a kitting and assembly partner with a reliable proficient workforce, give Brendon McGann a call at (804) 441-3915. Brendon is Productiv’s SVP Supply Chain and has worked with many contract manufacturers, packagers and other companies to solve their labor-intensive operational challenges.