By Rick Foreman, Lean Development Manager
Note from Ron: This is a guest post from my friend, frequent LSS Academy commenter, and most importantly Brother in Christ – Rick Foreman. Enjoy!
We’ve heard of the phrase, “rose-colored” glasses, but what about implementing “Lean- colored” glasses?
At what point in a cultural change does Lean become a part of our DNA or become the way we see and think?
Every once in a while we may hit on a Lean moment or event. Yet, in the pursuit of perfection or excellence, we focus on simply doing something more efficiently and improving daily through the elimination of waste (non-value added activity).
This is “kaizen,” which means small, daily improvements. True Kaizen is a key element in sustaining our culture which continues to contribute toward a culture of profitability in tough economic times.
As noted in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to Lean, everyone is responsible for Lean. I recently received this great analogy from our company’s Estimating Manager after participation in our Lean Champion Book Club meeting. It really hits on the characteristics of a Lean thinker. Let’s reflect upon our current, Lean thinking state in the journey of the Coffee Kaizen.
Here is the email with the Lean analogy:
The next chapters [of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean] contain good information for what they call “event Lean.”
I was getting myself a cup of coffee this morning and thought of an analogy: The coffeemaker has two pots of coffee that are half full. Both burners are turned on. Employee Number 1 never heard of Lean. He gets a cup of coffee and walks away.
Employee Number 2 has been to Lean training and participated in many “events,” but only does what he’s been trained to do. He gets himself a cup of coffee, notices both pots are half full, so he pours the remainder of one into the other and shuts off the unused burner to save electricity. He does this, not because it was his idea, but because he was trained to do this to the coffeemaker during a Lean event session.
Employee Number 3 thinks Lean: He gets himself a cup of coffee, notices both pots are half full so he pours the remainder of one into the other and shuts off the unused burner to save electricity. He does this, not because he was trained to, but because he’s always looking for ways to remove waste and noticed there was unnecessary electricity being used.
The next day the same scenario unfolds. Employee Number 1 does the same thing he did the day before, and so does Employee Number 2. Employee Number 3 does the same thing he did before, but this time also notices that it’s 4:00 in the afternoon, and he’s the only coffee drinker left in the building, so he turns both burners off after getting his cup.
The difference is Employee Number 3 will continue to make improvements without even being asked to because he “thinks” differently than the others. He’s the one you want working for you.
For Employees Numbers 1 and 2, doing the same thing they did yesterday is “normal.” It’s all they’ve been taught to do. For Employee Number 3 looking for another way to remove waste is “normal.” It’s the only way he knows how to work. Someone changed the way he thinks.