In this post we are going to suggest another Lean tool that may be beneficial for our children to learn Autonomous Maintenance (i.e. Operator Maintenance).
Kids and Autonomous Maintenance
Who often do our children come to us with a complaint about how one of their toys, gadgets, or sports equipment. How often could these problems have been avoided if we would have taken the time to show them how to look after it themselves?
Yes even I was guilty of this one, because it I just did not want to take 20 or 30 minutes to show my daughter how to look after something properly. Yet lately I have started taking the time to have her fix things with my support and assistance instead of just doing it myself. The surprise is that as she learns to handle her own problems she comes to me far less for help. Additionally all her things are now being look after better than before.
Little things such as how to add air to their bikes tires, how to clean their computer screen, changing batteries in the electronic devices. I am now realizing that I was teaching her to be helpless, something my parents never did. I grew up on a working farm, my father never really had a lot of spare time especially so in the spring when planting season created 16 hour days. My siblings and I all learned to swap batteries for ourselves when we need to, additionally, if my bike required air for its tires, or basic lubrication, it was my job. By the time we started to help around the farm, we knew how to do most basic autonomous maintenance jobs and did them without ever being told, we had learned that it was just part of the job. Cleaning your tools and the equipment was another thing that we just knew had to be done, and at the end of a job or day you did it.
When I played hockey, I knew that it was my job to look after all my equipment, which meant that after each game or practise, you clean and dried it so that it would be ready to use again. My parents never did it for us, in fact if we did not look after it we would be out of the sports program. Out of all the teammates I had over the years, I knew only one kid whose parents look after their gear for them, he did last long in on the team, and he never really had the drive to do much. I feel that taking responsibility for our gear also helped teach us the discipline and responsibility to help us do well in the game as well.
Why is Autonomous Maintenance Important for Them to Learn?
Today as our kids get older and they progress in school they need computers to do a multitude of things. Unfortunately our kids often do not look after these expensive educational requirements. Rarely do I talk to a friend with kids that they do not complain about their kids not look after or caring for their things, but who is to blame? We are because we do not teach them how to look after their things, and if we do we do not enforce the requirements of good maintenance upon them. In that regard I learned from the problems with my oldest and now I am spending my time teaching the younger one the right way. At 9 she has her own computer which is an eight year old laptop I had. Despite it many limitations, it works perfectly for her still. She has all her files better organized, and she keep her bookmarks cleaner than I do, and to date I have never had to fix, something I could not say for her brother computer even though he was much older. Teaching her the basics of good computer care is paying off for me, by saving me the horrible waste of time it takes to restore and clean up a computer that has been misused. She watches for the warnings and asks me if she should allow a download or not (the exception is that she already knows some programs should be allowed to update). The reality was that it took me a couple hours of teaching her the computer, and having her help set it up, it has saved me dozens of hours in repair time each year (one total restore can take 5 hours her older brothers computer was restored 3 to 4 times per year).
How many battery powered devices do your needs have, changing batteries my take just a few minutes of your time, but you do it dozens of times per year. While you are doing it for them they are standing there doing nothing but waiting, and you are losing 5 to 10 minutes from something else you wanted to actually do. If you teach them how they won’t be standing around waiting and you can be doing what you wanted to do.
Another area bicycles are great for teaching them to look after something. Any kid can take a hand pump and inflate their own tires; they can also learn to lubricate the few parts that need it. After all even a cheap bike cost $100.00 today, if they are looked after they will last a very long time, if not you can buy them a new one every year if not sooner. Once they get use to looking after stuff, and they get old enough to help out with things like mowing the lawn, they will have developed and understanding of the need to do those little basic maintenance jobs that help keep your equipment running (a lawnmower is a costly purchase, if looked after they can last for a long time).
What else do They Gain?
As they get old enough to start working they will have developed good work habits that include looking after the equipment and tools they work with (Autonomous Maintenance). If you would hear how rarely employers find new workers that look after the tools and equipment, you would understand just how much better they will shine if they have been taught to do it. They will get better jobs, keep them, and earn themselves glowing recommendations from their employers, simply because they have a skill set that is rarely seen today. In the future’s increasingly competitive job market our kids will need all the help they can get.