Lately I’ve been reading a lot about, and practicing, lean principles especially since our organization has started using the principles outlined in a book called the 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers. Although this is not the start of Cambridge’s lean journey, it has been a significant simplification to the process and has made a huge impact. It talks about how to recognize and eliminate waste in an effort to provide more value for our customers. The book talks specifically about 8 deadly wastes; over production, transportation, inventory, defects, over processing, motion, waiting, and unused employee genius.
We are learning that when we eliminate waste we improve quality, productivity, and profitability. Now some might think, and they could be correct in their logic, that asking your people to be more productive could mean you are asking people to do more in the same 8 hours a day than what they did in the past. Well your right, we do want to be more productive but we want to use that productivity to help our organization grow more effectively and growth benefits all of us. And we’re learning that these sometimes simple improvements just make it easier to accomplish our day to day endeavors.
Our 3 pillars…see waste / eliminate waste / make videos…gives us the chance to video all the simple, and even sometimes complex, improvements that we are empowered to make each and every day. To date our organization, mostly the manufacturing team, has created over 650 videos documenting their elimination of waste.
What’s happening, and it has been amazing, is the engagement that is taken place in our organization. People are truly working together to accomplish a common goal...eliminating waste. Helping each other. Coming up with ways to make their job easier, and in most cases faster, not because they were told to do so but because they were empowered to use their knowledge about what they do on a daily basis and make it easier and better.
So we no longer have to ask if we can make a change... we have the authority to make the changes. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that kind of environment, an environment where we value everyone’s input on how to be more productive.
I read somewhere that people who are happy at work take that positive attitude home with them and share that positivism with their family. Think about that…we’re creating an environment where people enjoy what they do during the day and then take that positive attitude home with them at night…incredible. (I need to come up with another way to describe the 8 hours a day I spend with the Cambridge family because it is not work…work to me seems tedious, laborious, and just not fun and that’s not our environment)
I would encourage all businesses large and small to think about what a lean endeavor could mean for your organization. As with us, we didn’t embark on this journey with some enhanced financial goal in mind. We started this journey in an effort to create an organization where we have empowered people, and oh by the way a whole lot happier, who enjoy spending 40 hours a week with their daytime family members. Knowing that they have the right to affect change without asking for permission. After all, who knows better about how to improve what each of us do every day than ourselves?