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Finding the Best Way

Various hand dryers on a bathroom wall
Even though we preform the same functions, we operate differently!

This image may make you cringe, chuckle or scratch your head and ask "what were they thinking?!" For me, it tells a powerful story.


It all started with a connecting flight in the Pacific Northwest. I had been away for three days, teaching ContinuoUs Improvement, and I was one short flight away from home. As it was 30 minutes before boarding, I embarked on a pre-flight ritual that many of us are familiar with: going to the bathroom one last time. With my business concluded and my hands washed I turned to find the hand dryers and let out an audible "What the?!" The image above is what greeted me: four different hand dryers installed next to each other.

What struck me about that scene is just how good a parallel it is to how we operate in the HVAC Duct Manufacturing business. Just like these hand dryers...

We all do essentially the same thing, differently, yet one of these processes is the best.

The fact is that one of these dryers produces the best result. However, best can be defined in many ways. Looking at the hand dryers above, one of these machines is objectively the best at one of the following:

  • Drying Hands - Which one does the best job?

  • Efficiency - Which one finishes first?

  • Noise Level - Which one provides the highest degree of safety?

  • Power Consumption - Which one uses the fewest resources?

  • Maintenance - Which one is the most reliable?

  • Customer Satisfaction - Which one do the customers want?

Similarly, before we make changes, we need to understand what our goals are. When it comes to the Duct business, we place Safety and Quality above all other qualifications for successful operation. After that, we want to run as efficiently as possible, with the least amount of labor and materials wasted, with reliable operation that delivers a perfect product on time.

Is your current process the best process?

Normally when you enter a bathroom, you are greeted with one kind of hand dryer. This is also similar to how we operate: we have our one method and no other examples with which we can compare ourselves. We run our process to the satisfaction (or not!) of our customers but how often do we have the ability to benchmark ourselves against other methods? Without that outside perspective, it's difficult to know where we stand in our quality and efficiency, and how to improve and beat the competition.

One of the foundational purposes of the HVAC Duct Manufacturers Association is to share processes and ideas together through Peer Mastermind Groups in order to quickly identify areas for improvement and find the best way to operate. These groups have proven to be a source of massive improvement for all members who participate in them, and together we have found the best way to run many of our processes. Click here to read more about what we do in our groups.

To wrap up my story, one of those hand dryers was the best. Because I was fascinated with the study before me, I tried out each one. I discovered which one was the best, and now I'm delighted whenever I find that particular model in the bathroom I'm visiting. Similarly, I'm also a bit bummed when I run into one of the lesser machines because I know how much better the experience could be.

Don't stay in the dark when it comes to your processes. See how other companies operate, measure your methods, and make informed changes. Join a ContinuoUs Improvement group and start your journey towards the best way.

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