Problem 1 – Sandwich Shop


Problem 1 was to start the class thinking about the pre-production steps in delivering designed elements for a show without letting us get distracted by the theatrical elements by using the allegory of a sandwich shop. We, the project management team at Hudson Sandwich Studios, were contracted to create a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. The sandwich was designed and the designer had provided renderings and research images. The teams had to prepare construction documents and materials so that the local crew of the show,PBJ-2K, could assemble the sandwich before the show using the provided budget of $20 from the producer.

On the presentation day, teams packed their “trucks” and sent them to Pat, our CLT, for construction. Although Pat was constructing the sandwiches only a table away, we were told that we were just observers and that we were to believe Pat was the local house crew of the theatre constructing the sandwiches with only the written instructions from the truck pack.

Theatre being theatre, the show must go on! So there was even a list of services and tools available to be sure the projects could be completed, but at a cost. A knife rental for $1/day; a plate rental for $2/day; telephone service for $0.10/ minute; trucking for $4/trip locally; and a local shadow for a non-union worker for $8/day.

to see my classmate Irene’s report of the presentations please check out her post on our class’ openlab page


I was not assigned a team for this project due to my absence from the 1st week of class due to a work obligation. During the debriefing following the group presentations we discussed as a class how the teams approached the assignment.

What follows are my notes from the group discussion (post mortem) of the Sandwich Shop project

Define Problem:

Instructions / Documentation


Fit in box


Did you understand the problem?

Did you revisit the problem and its elements?

Did you create/include:

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† A checklist?

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Design drawings?

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Make a test sandwich from your instructions?

How successful was your project?

Were instructions read correctly?

The goal of good instructions is to make every step clear, even ‚Äúgivens‚ÄĚ

e.g. opening packaging, cleaning your hands before food prep…

You don’t want to frustrate the crew

More instructions are better, pictures are nice, make wording clear

What are examples of products we all encounter that come with instructions?

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ikea furniture (minimal words)

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Lego build sets

What are the common aspects of instructions that make them effective?

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Pictures (of final product followed by step by step assembly)

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Steps (not too much in each step)

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Packing list (1st instruction should be to check contents against list, packing list that is noted by packer also creates confidence in project outcome)

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Clearly state what instrucions are for¬† i.e. what you are building

                You want your crew assembling to know what the final product looks like to help them make educated inferences and involve them in the quality control of the final product, create a goal for the crew.



As a working professional I encounter the issues this problem addresses in my career frequently; actor interaction (“the sandwich will be eaten by a performer, so all ingredients must be edible.”), quality of product at¬†delivery¬†( a fresh sandwich), creating something that will be assembled by someone else without your supervision and without your explicit knowledge of who that person will be (the local crew will assemble the sandwich without you there), a budget and/or provided materials (in this case $20 to cover cost of materials) and a working timeline for¬†delivery and mode of transportation.

As a class we asked, how would the problem be different in the “real world”?¬† Everyone knows what a sandwich is therefore anyone building a sandwich knows what the general definition and desired final result of the final product is. Many times in our careers we rely on someone to communicate ideas and/or concepts that we are unfamiliar with. If the crew has never heard of or seen the object being assembled how will they have the intuition to know if they have skipped a step or are misreading vague directions? Being sure that you assume that the final product needs to be defined and that a picture or sketch of the assembled item is included with the instructions is important. In fact remember your lego booklets as a kid and take a great tool from them and start your instructions with the picture!

As a class we also acknowledged that redundancy was missing from this exercise. In practical applications redundancy is used to provide confidence in a successful outcome. Everyone agrees redundancy is important, but how much extra of any given element is needed? The answer to that is different every time. You have to learn to look at the big picture and based on multiple factors (your overall budget for supplies, your truck pack, knowledge of personnel, etc.) decide what redundancy you feel comfortable with.  This is an area where getting a group of people involved in the projects opinions and coming to a resolution as to what the redundancy should consist of is the best way to set yourself and your project up for success.

Our labeling system creates the vocabulary of a project that will be communicated through distance amongst many different parties. How we label and making sure labeling is consistent is key to having successful communication. Our labels on items should agree with out drawing and our pack list. When onsite personnel call to ask questions, reading off labels allows remote personnel to have a relevant and helpful conversation about the items. Descriptions on packing lists helps people unpacking the parts become aware of them even before instructions are opened.