Posted by: Knightbird | December 27, 2010

Ask The Question, The Answer Might Surprise You

Here is a story that an employee reminded me I told during the early years of our Lean Transformation. I wanted to tell a humorous story that showed how we sometimes fail to question the way we do things. This story came from the Readers Digest in, I believe, the 1960’s, so it is a bit sexist. I could have updated it for the new Century, but I learned it as I now tell it.

“A young husband watches his wife preparing a roast for the oven. She cut off both ends before putting it into the roasting pan, and he asked her why she did that. She said she did it because her mother always cooked her roasts that way.

The next time his Mother-in-Law came over, he asked her the same question, why did she cut off the end of her roasts before she cooked them. She told him that she did it because grandma always cut off the end before she cooked it.

Fortunately, Grandma was still living, and when she came over the next time, he asked the same question of her.

Grandma responded quickly, oh, that. I had to cut off the end of the roast because when your grandpa and I first got married, all we could afford was a tiny apartment with a small oven and a roast wouldn’t fit.”

I always got a huge laugh with the punch line, and the point was made. If we don’t ask the questions about why we do the things we do the way we do them, we will never know the reasons. And the reasons may not be good enough reasons for us to continue doing things the same way.



  1. Dear Patrick,

    I would still be laughing if I had a big chicken and a small oven. But I wonder if I’d still laugh if I had a big oven but don’t have a chicken to put in it and roast… 😉

    Just taking a shot of being cynic there…

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