Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out in the world – if it wasn’t for your mother, you wouldn’t be here to read this.
It’s an understatement that my mom is the glue that holds the family together. In my years she’s certainly been a jack-of-all-trades – fixing, coaching, teaching, preparing, managing, disciplining, facilitating, transporting, listening, everything.
While I hadn’t really thought of her in the past as a “Lean thinker” maybe I should reconsider. What can my mom possibly teach me about Lean?
Early on in our development, she was thinking about how short-term decisions could impact the long-term results for me and my siblings – schools to attend, classes to choose, activities, after-school supervision, and so on.
Cross-training and versatility
As previously mentioned, she certainly continues to operate as a jack-of-all-trades and seeks to solve problems by any means necessary. She might not have known about root cause analysis or the fishbone diagram, but her reasoning was always solid.
Use the right tool for the job
She is not particularly mechanically inclined but she is a stickler for following the instructions, which means using the proper tool and not improvising. I don’t recall a project she ever left unfinished, especially as a result of not having the right tool to begin with.
Activity and task balancing
She had to manage her schedule as it fit the family’s needs and duties – dropping off and picking up from our many activities like basketball practice or rehearsals or marching band competitions, shopping for food and clothing, cooking meals, cleaning everything, yet still having the time to spend with us directly.
The importance of cleanliness and organization
No matter how much 5S training I’ve had or provided, no one (me included) can keep a house clean and organized (yet also warm and functional) like my mom. Maybe it should be her providing the 5S training…
Early development and support, and teaching by example
While I don’t remember these activities specifically, our mom worked with us at a very early age on basic learning activities like hand-eye coordination, phonics, communication, mathematics, and interpersonal relations (er, sharing our toys with one another). The earlier those teachings are accepted and adopted by the learners, the faster the benefits from doing so are reaped (reading early, faster comprehension, accelerated absorption of facts).
Mom would measure our heights in a door frame and draw pencil lines with names/dates to measure our growth over time.
Rewarding good behavior
It wasn’t particularly often that she had to punish bad behavior, but when we did well (good grades on report cards, finishing chores, and the like) we were rewarded with candy or allowances.
People aren’t interchangeable parts
None of us were ever treated just like the other siblings. Rewards were different, as were punishments. Our chosen activities were different. Clearly our personalities were different. In order to achieve the expected end results we all had to be handled in different manners.
Doing what’s right versus what’s most popular
Believe it or not, we weren’t ever particularly big fans of the studio portrait sittings. However, we needed photos to send to family so despite our protests (read: crying) we complied (eventually). Now we can look back and laugh.
Also, it’s cliche, but she was a stickler for not letting us ruin our dinner by splurging on after-school treats.
When our mom would drive us to school we could watch the clock and based on elapsed time displayed by the time we passed certain landmarks on our trips we could tell if we were ahead or behind schedule and if we would be late or on time.
This list could go on and on…but in the end, she’s a Lean thinker and she might not even know it.
Happy Mother’s Day!