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  • Writer's pictureBill Greider

When the Landlord Oversteps His Bounds

Updated: Jan 1, 2020

Just think about how maddeningly disrespectful it would be if this happened. You just had a hard day at work, headed home, go upstairs to your apartment. Put the key in the door, open it up. And voila!!! Your landlord decided that he wasn't too crazy about how you had your furniture arranged. Of course he has a key to your apartment, and sometime during the day, he went in and shifted things around. He moved the sofa under the window, threw the slightly wobbly coffee table your aunt gave you into the dumpster, pulled some red curtains out of the linen closet, took the blue ones down, and folded them up and pitched them too, along with some knickknacks and the Jimi Hendrix and Farah Fawcett posters.

The first time it happened, you might feel a bit violated, probably angry, and because he is your landlord, and not your boss, you probably go down to Apartment 1C, pound on the door, and give him a piece of your mind. Hard feelings would persist, crossing paths would prove to be awkward to say the least. The cold shoulder would replace "how bout them Mets" or "particularly nasty weather, eh?" The Friday night poker game would be discontinued, etc. Maybe your landlord would see the error of his ways, apologize, give you a month rent-free, the poker game starts up and again, and then, 6 months later, you come home to find your dining room furniture in the kitchen, and all of your leftovers in Tupperware tossed into the trash. I'm not sure I need to speculate about how this scenario plays out.

From a LEAN Respect for People standpoint, the landlord, with his key, did a fantastic job of going to the GEMBA. He should be applauded for his drive to do a little continuous improvement, right? Isn't it obvious that the sofa makes more sense to be under the window (instead of blocking the hallway to the bedrooms (you used to have to climb over it))? It creates better "flow". A little 5S (especially sort, i.e. pitching crap) was long over due? Everything has it's place (set)!!

Many years ago, when I was first certified as a LEAN CHAMPION, my first kaizen event was to "fix" our shipping area. You know, 5S, create some nice flow, So I picked one or two residents from the shipping department, along with a handful of other people who worked in other apartments, I mean departments. The rest of the tenants of the shipping department got to watch as the landlord and a few others ransacked their department.

Respect for people means don't fix other people's jobs,. If you're a supervisor/foreman/manager/landlord, going to the GEMBA means gaining agreement before chucking someone's knickknacks.

Thank you to my friend Esteban Ortiz of Light Metals Coloring (Southington, CT), for presenting "respect for people" in such a clear, simple way!

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