My First Kanban Experience at ‘Cookies By Design’

The kanban concept is all around us everyday.  From supermarkets to our toilet paper and paper towels at home.  As I was thinking back to one of my first jobs in high school (early 1990s to date myself), I realized I had used kanban without even knowing it.

I worked for a new franchised store called “Cookies By Design”.  The family that opened it was great.  They treated all the employees with respect and genuinely cared for us.  My job was to come in a few times a week and make the baskets with sticks for the cookies to go on.  This consisted of mixing water and powder to make plaster, lining a woven basket with plastic, pouring the plaster to the two-thirds level, waiting for it to start to solidify, and they place dow rods in the plaster to hold the cookies.  There were several basket layouts so I had to keep them stocked with the appropriate number of layouts.

I would come in a couple nights a week and then Saturday or Sunday.  Again, the owners showed respect for me by giving me (a 17-year-old kid) a key to come in as I needed.  Every time, I would analyze how many were used since the last time I made them, then calculated about how many would be needed before I came in again and if there weren’t enough, I made a standard order quantity of the baskets.

The whole time I was using kanban levels and had no clue about it.  I wish I would have known about visual management at the time in order to make my reorder points easier to see.

I am amazed of how much I used lean concepts before even knowing about them.  And I was using them in everyday life.  Do you have any examples of a lean concept you used before you even knew what lean was?  I would like to hear about any experiences you had.



Posted on October 15, 2010, in Other, Problem Solving, Tools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I took my first professional job as a university residence hall director the office I inherited was an absolute disaster area. Piles of files laying about. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Almost like a bomb went off. One could say, “No place for anything and nothing in its place,” to sound anti 5S. I was in my mid 20s and had never heard of lean, and I wouldn’t hear of it for about another 10 years, but it was my nature to practice what I now know as 5S. So, I threw out what wasn’t needed (Sort), organized what was left (set in order), cleaned it up thoroughly (shine), and through my daily management of the new system I created, the standardizing and sustaining were easy. The new system I created lasted me all 5 years I spent at that university.

  2. Great example. It’s amazing how often small businesses have lean practices without ever hearing of lean. It’s just smart business.


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