Posted by: Knightbird | December 21, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

At our annual Christmas Party this year, we celebrated the 20 year anniversary of one of my senior Executives. During the presentation of her gifts, I told our employees and guests about some of our early experiences at our old building here in Anchorage. The story relevant to this post is about the true “Gift That Keeps On Giving”-the CYA Memo.

The CYA Memo wastes the time it takes to write. The audience doesn’t necessarily have to have the information. My executive would find 10, 15 and even 20 copies of these memos throughout the organizations. This meant someone took the time to copy and distribute this unnecessary memo. It also meant that someone bothered to store the memo. So it took up unnecessary space. And of course there was the ubiquitous routing memo telling everyone who was important enough to get the CYA Memo.

And in an organization like ours used to be, one that kept pallets of old records, the CYA Memo continued to take up space, and required occasional handling.

My Executive tried on a regular basis to attack the paper disaster caused by the CYA Memo’s. I shared one of the first memories I had of her cleaning efforts. She and another employee spent a considerable amount of time in our shared Grantwriting office to sort through and dispose of unnecessary Memos. They came up with 3 ½ truckloads of paper leaving the office.

This was one of our first 5S events, and we didn’t even know it. This Executive became my first convert to Lean, and it’s been a wonderful journey.

(If you don’t know what CYA means, look HERE.)



  1. … Just goes to show the waste a blame and shame environment creates. Nice example and well put, Patrick.

    Glad to see you blogging again!

  2. I’m sorry, was that meant as a PUN? It would be different if sent on as a text message…it would mean CYA (C yah [later])…

    And by now that you have electronic messaging it would have been easier to send batch messages of the same subject in one press of the SEND icon. It would still occupy space but easier for the Space Manager or Administrator to DELETE and send to the Re-Cycle Bin or just wipe off the physical memory storage where its located. 🙂

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