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Spot the problem and save a life.

posted in: Embrace the negative (Tags: , , ) - No Comments

If you work in manufacturing, you will know that one of the most time saving and money saving things you can do is to look for problems.   First, build a quality system. Second, look for bottlenecks and mistakes.   For example, a faulty use-by date stamp may ruin a complete batch of otherwise perfectly good product.   A disgruntled employee may become a saboteur.  Looking at the glass half empty can save a lot of headaches. It has for me.

It was a fine but cloudy day during the late afternoon, back in October 2004. Ferntree Gully Road was smooth. On one side of the 6 lanes, a footpath fed the neat houses. On the other side, a gravel shoulder fronted an industrial area.
Thousands of cars busily travelled in both directions on this Sunday afternoon. In one of those cars, the radio blared. My daughter and I sang along.   Suddenly, the singing stopped. “That’s not right”, I yelled.   My daughter, like the thousands of other motorists, had not seen the obvious problem. I explained….

“Old people don’t push walking frames along the gravel in front of an industrial area. She is on the wrong side of the road!”

We stopped the car.  An exhausted elderly woman was pleased to see us.   We gave her a drink. She was heading home. However, for her, home was one hours DRIVE away!   “Can’t be possible”, I thought. A second problem now presented itself. She can’t be here, and live so far away.

We drove to the Knox police station. The police investigated the elderly lady’s background. My daughter and I kept the elderly lady company.

After nearly 8 hours, close to midnight, it was discovered that this elderly lady was missing from a local elderly person’s home. They hadn’t realised, until then, that she was missing!


For the elderly lady, her mind had stopped 5 years earlier. She had altzheimer’s. In her mind, she still lived an hour’s drive away. Her husband was still alive.

That day, I noticed a problem that thousands had missed.   Who’s glass was full and who’s was half empty?


Rodney Lovell