The term lean in an organizational context means, “creating more value with fewer resources.” Let that sink in for a second. More value with fewer resources?
How does that work?
Paul Akers, author of the book “2 Second Lean,” owns a business called Fastcap, which is in the wood-working industry. Several years ago, he brought in a consultant to solve a very specific problem. Instead, he was literally told, “Paul, you know nothing about manufacturing.” It turns out, there was a lot of waste in the processes, which was costing his company both time and money.
Paul became a student of the lean concept, and through a series of experiences (the details of which are laid out in his book), he transformed his organization into a lean machine. As one of the only companies that prospered during the Recession, it proved to be a crucial change.
So, what is lean?
When you boil it down, lean is a mindset. Being lean means constantly analyzing your processes to determine the quickest way to complete a specific task. You can apply this both at home and in the workplace.
Here’s a really simple example that comes from Paul’s book: Every morning, Paul drinks his coffee with cinnamon and Splenda. The steps he used to take were always the same. He would make his coffee, retrieve a Splenda packet, pour it into his mug, pull out cinnamon and also pour it into the mug. He would then throw out the empty packet and put the cinnamon back in its place.
One day he had a revelation: What if he preemptively filled a container with both the Splenda and cinnamon, thereby cutting down the prep time each morning?
It’s not a massive time saver in and of itself, but these little changes add up. Further, they put you in the headspace to start analyzing other processes in your life that could be done differently. Do you have to search deep into your filing cabinet to retrieve a special piece of information frequently? Put it someplace more accessible. Do you have to walk across the kitchen to throw something away while you’re cooking? Move the can closer.
It requires a certain mindset to identify these types of inefficiencies and actually do something about them.
Paul named his book the “2 Second Lean” because there is no need to cause massive disruption in your life or organization in the name of creating more value with fewer resources(in fact, it can actually be harmful). Do it slowly. Take out 2 seconds at a time.