Business Management and LEAN – 8 Ways to Make Haste and Shake Out Your Waste

Stick with me a moment, because this story has true application for a LEAN business management strategy — a recipe that works.The Dumb StoryYou’re a Norwegian bachelor, sitting in your kitchen and minding your own business. But every time you look up, there’s another guy there — sitting on a platform five or six feet above the floor, watching your every move. You pick up a spoon, he writes in his notebook. You walk to the refrigerator, he draws on his pad.Perched in his high chair, the observer looks like a lifeguard. Except, of course, he is wearing a coat and tie, as his profession requires. Folke, the observer, is paid to observe. And you have volunteered to be observed. The purpose: To modernize the home kitchen.It’s in a movie called Kitchen Stories, based on real-life social experiments conducted in Sweden during the 1950s. (I am taking the word of Blockbuster’s write-up regarding this point.)In the movie — a satire — a research institute sets out to modernize the home kitchen by observing a handful of Norwegian bachelors. By analyzing their movements and patterns, they hope to develop products that make the kitchen more efficient for this target market.Dumb movie, but very significant topic.8 Smart PointsWould you like to reduce wasted movement (cost) in your business? Eliminate wasted effort (cost)? Use your tools and staff more efficiently (savings)? Darn right!Last time I checked, saving an expense pays off just as much increasing a sale, and often more so. But these savings don’t “just happen.” They hide inside the way we’ve always done it. How do you dig inside that little fortress? The LEAN philosophy suggests eight areas of waste to hunt down:1. Excessive processing. Weed out any step that the customer wouldn’t pay for if you put it on his bill.2. Transportation of things. Trace the product through your business. Do you have to move it that many times — or so far?3. Motion of people. Wasted footsteps and productive footsteps cost the same.4. Inventory. If you have more than you need, your money’s tied up in the wrong place. How many pencils can you use at once? How many are in your drawer?5. Overproduction. Is your material making money, or is it waiting days for the next step?6. Waiting. If something is not being processed, it’s eating your lunch.7. Underutilized people and resources. People and resources deteriorate when they’re not used.8. Defects. The worst! You just wasted every step up to that point.Kitchen Stories may be a dumb movie, but the business management strategy lesson is very real. When it comes to cost-management, does your recipe spell success — or disaster? Get on a high chair and take a look.