Is my future Lean?

August 4, 2009

By Steve Johnson

I have decided to take a punt and make a bit more out of my understanding of Lean.
It is time I take advantage of one of the things which makes me different from most other people, my ability to see waste!
I have been mulling this over for some time and feel that I need to make my future my own and a key part of that for me is learning more about Lean, learning more of the techniques, but fundamentally taking some of the principles that I take for granted and applying them to other businesses and organisations.
My ‘Lean’ epiphany occurred about three years ago whilst being introduced to the theory of constraints and reading The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. However looking back I was already showing signs of what I now term Lean. Developing standard work, processing paper work as it arrived, trying to deliver what the customer wanted not just what my company wanted to produce.
From my current vantage point I can see that my first exposure to Lean was whilst working at McDonalds from 1997 -1999 as a student. Standard work, continuous improvement, continuous assessment, pull and ‘clean as you go’ are all very easy to see now, but at the time it was just how they did it.
I feel very strongly that this gave me an unconscious understanding of how work can be done and many of my colleagues have heard me utter the phrase, ‘at McDonalds they do it like this….’.
I am not an expert at applying the tools that have developed to allow the concept of Lean to be implemented. However I am very confident that I have a good grasp of Lean, the core values and the state of mind needed to help others understand it too.
The road to understanding the fundamentals of Lean is long and can be hard work, but when the moment comes and one gets it, it is quite amazing, the world changes in quite a significant way. (My journey took place over a total of 8-9 years if include my experience at McDonalds.)
This may all sound a bit over the top, but this is how it feels to me, and others that I have spoken to that have gone through the same learning experience.

This post was written by Steve Johnson

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