Importance of Stepping Back

Continuous improvement and driving out waste is a fundamental part of lean.  The constant pursuit of driving waste out and not letting it creep back in sounds great.  We should all do it.

This weekend was a great case of why we forget about waste and a method to help focus on waste.  My wife and I decided to clear out the garage and get it better organized.  We don’t do a great job of 5S in our garage and it is really apparent after we do a major project.  We end up with tools not put back in the same place, plus the addition of new tools to do the project. In the last year we have completed 4 big projects (built our kids a swing set, replaced all the railing on our second floor deck, gutted and remodeled our master bath and installed cabinets for a craft area).  Our garage was a mess.

I have mentioned before that my wife runs her own business on top of us doing all this.  During the clean out, she asked one simple question, “Why can’t we move the business stuff up by the door for of the third garage?”  Brilliant!!  Here is a drawing of the third car garage and what is stored in it.

(click on image to enlarge)

This is brilliant because the truck you see part outside the door is used for her business outings.  Now I can just open the door and load her stuff into the truck with very little movement.  Before, I had to move my car out or squeeze by it and carry her stuff to the back of the garage and never opened the third car door.  It eliminates motion/transportation waste of me carrying and my back really appreciate it.

Two years of doing this and it never occurred to either one of us until we stepped back, observed the area and really thought about it.

As lean leaders, we ask a lot of people to drive out the waste in their work.  Make it a little better everyday.  But if we don’t give them time to step back, reflect and ask questions then this is not as easy as it sounds.  A process has to be established that allows the employees to do this.  we can’t make grand statements and just expect things to happen.

It may seem easy to just reduce/eliminate the waste but when you are knee deep in the work you need the time to step back.  Don’t undervalue it.

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Posted on August 16, 2012, in Improvement, Misc, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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