Making a car can be one hot potato
Call it the allegory of the baked potato. This comparison of how different automakers might bake a potato has been making the rounds on the industry's e-mail circuit.
In some versions, the second automaker is General Motors. This version came to our attention courtesy of a Ford supplier.
How a Honda employee bakes a potato:
Preheat new, high-quality oven to 350 F
Insert Idaho potato
Go do something productive for 45 minutes
Check for doneness, then remove perfectly baked potato from oven and serve
How a Ford employee bakes a potato:
Instruct an Idaho potato supplier to preheat the oven to 350 F
Demand that the supplier show you how he turned the dial to reach 350 F, and have him come up with documentation from the oven manufacturer proving that it was calibrated properly
Review documentation, then have supplier check the temperature using a sophisticated temperature probe
Direct supplier to insert potato and set timer for 45 minutes
Have supplier open oven to prove potato has been installed correctly, and request a free study proving that 45 minutes is the ideal time to bake a potato of this size and variability due to orientation within the oven
Request a Six Sigma Study showing variable cook times for various potato sizes and orientations
Check potato for doneness after 10 minutes
Check potato for doneness after 11 minutes
Check potato for doneness after 12 minutes
Become impatient with supplier (Why is this simple potato taking so long to bake?). Demand status reports every five minutes.
Check potato for doneness after 15 minutes.
After 35 minutes, conclude that potato is nearing completion. Pass through Gate review reporting all Green status.
Congratulate supplier, then update your boss on all the great work you've done, despite having to work with such an uncooperative supplier
Remove potato from oven after 40 minutes of baking, as a cost save without loss of function or quality vs. the original 45-minute baking time.
Wonder aloud what on earth those Japanese folks are doing over there to make such good, low-cost baked potatoes that people seem to like better than Ford potatoes.