“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Recognize this line? Made famous by the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” it fittingly describes the feeling you get when you suddenly realize that things have changed. How can change happen so fast that we get caught off guard? Even Dorothy saw the twister coming.

I recently had a “Kansas moment” that made me start thinking about why we sometimes hang on to products or processes that are soooo yesterday.

Years ago when my kids were young, we got hooked on Disney movies – the classics like “Jungle Book” and “Cinderella.” We bought them all. We now have dozens of Disney VHS tapes. Yes, VHS tapes – the once marvelous invention that beat out Beta tapes to become the world’s “movie on demand” at our fingertips. The kids have grown and we haven’t watched the tapes for years. We don’t even have a VHS tape player hooked up anymore. But, I still have two cabinets full of Disney VHS tapes. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because it took a long time to collect them or at the time, it was a really cool thing to have. But their format and quality are outdated relative to today’s standard and we have sort of outgrown them too. Why haven’t I thrown them out or given them away? Could I have actually become emotionally attached to our collection of VHS tapes?

Obviously this situation didn’t happen overnight. But just recently it was called to my attention by a series of events. First, while I was doing my spring cleaning (I know that it’s the fall – I’m a little behind) I opened the cabinets packed with VHS tapes and sighed for lack of storage room for anything else but quickly shut the door and moved to the next task. Later that day, we were at the video store and I noticed they don’t even carry VHS tapes. And so, I had a “Kansas” moment – one of realizing that things have really changed. Technology has changed and our needs have changed.

This sort of thing doesn’t just happen at home. It is common in the workplace. Processes that were once top notch have become outdated but somehow they are still around and many of us cling to them like they are our very own VHS tapes. I’m not sure why this happens especially since we have Six Sigma to help us make our processes better. Maybe we can’t get past the old successes because they make us feel good. Maybe we’ve become emotionally attached to our old ways. Or maybe we just haven’t realized that our customers have changed.

The marketplace is constantly changing and customers want if faster, cheaper and better. Case in point – if you have processes (or products) that have not been improved, reshaped or redesigned in the past five years, you may be falling behind. Periodically revisiting your CT tree and using VOC may keep you from an unnecessary trip to Kansas.

As for me, I think I’ll pack up those VHS tapes and put them in the attic, garage or closet – oh my!

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