Within the workforce at my organization, we have a subpopulation of folks doing basic research. They work in all kinds of technical fields including physics, biology, chemistry and math. They are considered a crucial part of the organization. To support their research, we have a technical library filled with books and periodicals of all kinds. We've been in existence for many decades and some of the technical journals in our collection date back to the turn of the 20th Century.
For a bookworm, it's a lovely thing.
As the Age of the Interweb Tubes dawned, our research population was able to find a larger and larger percentage of their answers on the Internet and needed the library less and less. Having said that, because the content on the Internet is typically very shallow and it is difficult to read, say, partial differential equations textbooks on a computer screen, the technical library's necessity to our researchers did not diminish.
That's important enough to repeat and emphasize. Just because you need less of something, does not mean you can do without it. A Prius needs less gas than a normal car, but without any gas at all it's just an expensive storage shed on wheels.
And so the walk-in customer population of the library shrank while the library's size stayed the same. Like it or not, books occupy physical space and the size of a library cannot be reduced without getting rid of books. Because we pay space charges for every building, the cost of operating the library remained constant despite the reduced walk-in traffic.
Enter Lean Six Sigma (LSS). For those of you who don't understand LSS you can check out my long history of rants that explain it in hideous, graphic detail.
Several LSS events* were held to determine the future of the library. It was decided that we needed to reduce the size of the library by about 60%. That meant getting rid of lots and lots of books and obliterating all reading areas within the building. The place now looks and feels like a 99 Cent Store.
Now that the decisions have been made and irreversible actions have been taken, our research community is completely enraged. Meanwhile, the effort is being considered yet another LSS success story.
And how much did we save?
About the cost of one full-time LSS black belt.
We used LSS to maim our technical library and insulted, disabled and demoralized one of our most important groups all so we could pay the LSS goon. Unreal.
* - A LSS event holds the same promise as a nuclear event. The best course of action should you encounter one is to flee or if that is not possible, hide in a shelter. Following the event, I highly recommend War Crimes Trials against the people who precipitated it in the first place.