Lean is Common Sense

Posted on November 18, 2011 | in Defects, Error-Proofing, Lean Tools, Small Business, Sports | by

There is a path that I intend to follow with my posts that will represent how an individual, business, or team would learn about lean and how it might be implemented. That path will continue.

However, please allow me this momentary digression from the path.

As mentioned previously, everything has a process – work processes, home processes, long processes, short processes. Every process has some degree of waste, some more than others. No process is perfected; thusly, every process is sub-optimal.

This afternoon I encountered a sub-optimal process that we’ve all experienced at one time, and I’m betting that when you ran into this issue you thought, “Gee, someone should really fix this.”

I was visiting a store that designs signs and banners. Essentially wallpapering the outside and inside of the store are signs of all types – square signs, round signs, plastic signs, wood signs, metal signs, flat signs, topographical signs, signs in windows, signs on walls, signs in windows.

I walk up the stoop, face the door, and realize it’s lacking a “push” or “pull” sign for entry. It is not physically clear what an entering patron must do to open the door – the bar across the door gives no indication, and there is no handle. I make my best guess – I push – and I guess wrong. Believe me, I looked around for indications. I didn’t go to Midvale.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

A sign store…that makes signs of all kinds…including signs for pushing or pulling doors…doesn’t have a sign in place.

It makes me scratch my head.

Examining this process (“opening the door”) would have shown the process owner (store owner who manage all processes within the store, for example) that this process was broken. While it’s a quick process to complete, or for a process user (me) to correct (“okay, pull next time”), why not make it easier for process users to get right the first time?

While this is a very simplistic example, it demonstrates how lean thinking is common sense.

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2 Responses to “Lean is Common Sense”

  1. D. Smits says:

    I think you are right about the part: “why not make it easier for process users to get right the first time?” This should be the end goal all times. But I think that this example just shows that some people don’t really think about (the small) stuff to improve and how life would be to do things always right the first time. If the focus would be on that, a lot of things should change. I do believe that should be the common goal for everyone, to banish as much waste as possible.

    • Chad Walters says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      This is why I like value stream mapping – it helps identify wasteful activities (and items) and opportunities for improvement. If it’s not part of the value stream, it shouldn’t be here. (Of course, if it’s not on the map and it should be, why isn’t it on the map?)

      I really like the simplified view of what lean is and can do for you, without having to get into too complex of details – this is what my forthcoming e-book will be about. I intend it to be a short introduction to lean – where it came from, why it’s important, and what it can do for you – without getting into the how, where, who details.

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