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Two Second Improvements Daily

There is a lot discussion around big changes and improvements from lean thinking.  Usually, this discussion is around how to realign manufacturing processes in cells or value streams or sitting people across a value stream together for better communication in a business process.

What isn’t talked about enough is driving to the 2 second improvement every day.  This is something Paul Akers does very well at FastCap.  He even has a YouTube video of 2 second improvements at home.

I have taken a page from his book and done this with my routine at the gym in the morning.  After working out, I get ready for work at the gym.  I used to just grab everything out of my shaving bag and put it on the counter.  Then I noticed I always brush my teeth first.  I was taking my toothpaste out of the bag first, setting it on the counter, getting everything else out, then picking up the toothpaste, put it on my brush and then putting the toothpaste back on the counter.  Later I would put the toothpaste back in the bag.

My 2 second improvement.  I get everything out of my bag first.  The second to last thing I get out is my toothbrush and the last thing is my toothpaste.  I don’t set it down though.  I get the toothpaste out, use it and place it right back in my bag.  When I am done with my toothbrush, it goes right back in the bag too.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but combined with other improvements I have started to save significant time in the morning.  It allows me more time to workout.

What 2 second improvements have you made?

5S at the Gym

Over the last few weeks at the gym I have noticed some good examples of 5S and some very poor examples of 5S creating clutter.



A good example of 5S is the placement of weights throughout the gym.  The dumbbell rack has the weight labeled on the racks so you know where to put the dumbbells when you are finished.  The small barbell rack is labeled with weights to know where to put them back as well as the free weight trees.


This is a prime example of having good 5S does not change behavior.  It just creates the ability to see an abnormal condition quickly.  The dumbbell rack is always kept in good order and dumbbells are always in the proper place.  But the free weights and small barbell weights are NEVER in the correct spot.  I can spot the issue quickly and I can take action to find what I need.  For the life of me, I still can’t figure out how the same people can put the dumbbells in the correct spot but 10 feet away not put the free weights or small barbells in the correct spot.

A bad example of 5S in the same weight room is not having a place to put attachments for the cable pulley machines.  These machines have a ‘W’ shaped bar, a straight bar, a rope and handles to do different exercises and work different muscles.  I have never seen one of these machines with a spot labeled for these attachments.  All the attachments lay on the floor an ‘walk away’ between different machines.  Half the time I spend looking for the attachment I want for my exercise.  It becomes very frustrating.  I can’t even tell quickly if the attachment I need is in the pile laying on the floor.  Once I recognize it isn’t, then I have to go and look at the other machines or decide to change my routine.

Just because you have a place for some things, does not mean you are finished with your 5S efforts.  And once you have a place for things, it takes constant monitoring to make sure the efforts don’t slip and the area ends up back in chaos.

Error Proofing the Weight Room

I have always been active and continue to try and stay active.  I go to the gym and workout a few days a week to try and stay in shape.  A couple of weeks ago, I switched gyms that I was working out at.  The new gym I go to has many more machines that target muscles more specifically.  The thing that got my attention most was how well they targeted the muscle it was designed for.  I wasn’t doing any new exercises or trying to target different muscles, but I was more sore than I had been in the past.

I have been using a weight machine for several years to do the overhead press to work my shoulders.  At the new gym, I find the overhead press machine.  It looks a little different.  As I use it, I notice that my range of motion feels better…..more natural.  I’m not fighting how my arms move.  They are just moving comfortably.  I did the weight that I have been doing for a few weeks.  The next day, my muscles felt more exhausted and worked then I have ever felt.  By making slight improvements to the design of the machine to mimic more natural of a movement the machine target the muscles more directly and made my workout more efficient.

One other improvement was the use of visual standard work.  One the machine is a plaque that details what muscles it is designed for.  It also gives instructions on how to set up the machine seating for use to best target the intended muscles.  Below is an example (click to enlarge).The instructions on the machines at the new gym are more detailed then this one, but I wanted to give an idea of what was on the machine.

Examples of lean concepts are everywhere.  Do you see other examples at the gym?  Where else do you see examples being applied?