Excellence is a Habit

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit.”

I am doing my best to teach my kiddos about lean and six sigma. Since they are ages 5, 3, and 1 my instructional tactics need to be creative.

Recently, I have been teaching them about the concept of point of use and how to eliminate the waste of motion. How am I doing this you wonder? Well I have gone to the gemba, or the place the work is done, of course.

The Clothes Hamper

Specifically, we have gone to the clothes hamper. My kids had developed this terrible habit during bedtime of taking their dirty clothes off and throwing them on the floor. Often times it turned into a game between my 3 and 5 year old on how far they could throw their shoes and socks! Very annoying.

So, I made a simple modification to the process. Now, when it’s time for them to put their pajamas on we stand by the clothes hamper. As a sock comes off it goes straight into the hamper and so on.

In other words, we have moved to point of use which has radically reduced the waste of motion. It also cuts down on defects (dirty clothes on the floor). Lastly, the cycle time of this whole process has been radically reduced (no I haven’t timed them… yet).

Check and Adjust

I had to work with them a few nights reinforcing the new process. And then tonight, yeah I am getting a little choked up here; I saw my 5 year old walk to the hamper and put her dirty clothes directly into it without any prompting. My baby is getting lean!

All joking aside, the key learning point for me was how quickly a bad habit can be eliminated by simply changing the process and then checking and adjusting as needed. You know, PDCA.

But as Aristotle so perfectly stated we are indeed what we repeatedly do. So if excellence is what we hope to attain we need to develop some pretty good habits. You know, like putting your dirty clothes directly into the clothes hamper!

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  1. Julie Davis

    January 24, 2008 - 9:03 am

    What a funny (and great) post! I can so relate with what you are dealing with. If we just take the time to study our children we can learn so much.

  2. Ron Pereira

    January 24, 2008 - 9:33 am

    I hear you Julie. My kids teach me far more than they realize! Thanks for stopping by.

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