Tell Slate Your Operations Secrets: How Do You Keep Things Running Smoothly?

How businesses get things done.
June 20 2012 11:22 AM

How Do You Keep Your Life Running Smoothly?

Tell Slate your operations secrets.

New York State Government Hosts Job Fair In Brooklyn.
There's got to be a way to make lines move more quickly.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

If you’ve been reading this Slate series on operations management, you’ve learned about all sorts of tricks companies use to make their processes quicker and smoother. Southwest’s preferred model of jet. The secrets of the serpentine line. Why Poland Spring bottles got so crinkly.

But operations aren’t just for giant corporations. For example: After reading about The Goal—the thriller, set in a manufacturing plant, that I reviewed earlier in this series—my sister found herself in an operations-minded mood. Which proved useful! The organization she works for was taking applications from teens seeking summer jobs. Lots of teens, lots of applications. The line was backing up, and frustration was mounting. Then my sis had her eureka moment. She realized a certain part of the application was disqualifying tons of candidates. So she made sure that part of the application was the first item that got checked. That way, no applicant went through the rest of the process (eating up precious interviewer time) only to be disqualified by the common trip-up. The line moved faster, and everyone was happier.

How about you? Do you have operations success stories from your workplace, or even from your life? Has your company discovered a way to run meetings more efficiently? Have you found the bottleneck in your grocery shopping routine? Maybe you’ve determined a more efficient way to cook spaghetti, or pack for a trip, or peel a banana? Let us know. We’ll round up the best operations tips and share them with other Slate readers.

Send your operations ideas to



Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.


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