What Does "Lean" Mean to You? [Guest Post]
Guest Post: Keith Poirier has over 17 years industry experience with a focus on lean/business process improvement.Â He currently manages an EHS Team for a global design and manufacturing company,Â and also instructs an Operations Management MBA course.
What is lean?Â What does it mean to you?Â Does it mean the same thing to everyone?
Iâ€™ve been at it for a while (over 17 years to be exact), practicing lean across many companies in many different industries.Â Iâ€™ve seen 5S in one place and SCANDO in another.Â Iâ€™ve seen 1-day, 3-day, 5-day Kaizen Events.Â Iâ€™ve taught the concepts of kanban, takt time, process mapping, waste elimination to hundreds (if not thousands).Â If you ask a dozen different people what does â€˜Leanâ€™ mean to you, youâ€™ll get a dozen different answers. However, in my experience, I do see ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR:
Lean is nothing more than the re-introduction of â€˜common senseâ€™ into our daily work lives.
Yes, you can really sum it up in one statement!Â Now, there are many different tools and approaches, and sometimes youâ€™re tailoring a fix to a specific problem, but all of our lean efforts aim at instilling common sense back into our processes.Â Letâ€™s be honest here, weâ€™ve spent a lot of time making our processes more complex by adding layers upon layers of extra work, while all-along we were thinking we were making our processes more efficient.Â We have fallen victim to adding unnecessary complexity and by default we have been making our jobs harder!
Not to worry, thereâ€™s an easy fix.Â Focus on the simple, small & rapid improvements!Â By observing work, and training our eyes to see those problems we would ignore in the past, we can make a difference.Â So go watch work happen, where it happens, and eliminate that extra step, additional check, and unnecessary report.