Thursday, June 21, 2012

Matt Sileno 7 Diet Tips for Your Company

From Matthew E. May:

In 1996, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones popularized the term "Lean Thinking" in their book of the same name. It was their expression for what they observed by studying Toyota’s manufacturing operations: an absence of waste.

Today, lean concepts have moved beyond the factory floor to become an organizing set of business principles and practices aimed at delivering the highest possible value by ruthlessly banishing waste in all operations and activities.

Most recently, Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, applied lean thinking to entrepreneurial endeavors. But what does it really mean to be lean?

Lean Isn't Mean

It's often much easier to describe what lean isn’t than what it is. Lean isn’t about being spartan, skinny or stingy. It isn't about slash-and-burn cost cutting, reducing headcount or beating up suppliers to get the lowest price. It isn't relevant only to manufacturing operations—every process in your company can benefit from a lean approach.

There’s really only one way to think lean, and that's counterintuitively. Lean is a subtractive approach, one of systematically removing anything that impedes the free flow of value to the receiving party, be it a customer, a partner or a downstream process. Yet we are hard-wired to do just the opposite, to add, gather, accumulate and store. By nature we think "more!", but getting and staying lean requires us to fight our basic human instinct.

In lean thinking, it's not about doing more with less, it's about doing better with less. It's a nuance most people don't quite get, which explains why truly lean operations are so rare. Think about it: you've undoubtedly said "No more!" many times, even when it comes to something good. But when was the last time you said, "Please, don't get any better." There is no limit on better.

Getting Lean

To keep your company lean, you have to wage an all-out war on waste. In lean thinking, there are seven forms of waste:


For a manufacturing setting, this means simply making too much of something, relative to demand. In other business settings, it might take the form of printing too much paperwork, creating too many reports or processing an order before it's actually needed—anything that's done without regard to whether there is a true demand for it.


When there are too many non value-adding steps to achieve a given outcome, you've got overprocessing. In manufacturing, it might take the form of too many operations to complete a phase of work, or the effort needed to inspect and fix defects arising from poor tool or product design. In a service-oriented business, for example, it might be redundant data entry due to a lack of integration between multiple systems.


Conveyance includes any and all forms of transportation and handling of goods and material. Conveyance adds absolutely zero value, as the very best you can hope for in moving anything from one place to another is that nothing goes wrong. In other words, whether you're physically moving something or doing so virtually (even in something as simple as sending an email), there's no upside to conveyance. It's a necessary evil meant to be reduced wherever possible.


One of the most prominent types of small business in America is the automobile dealership. Tens of thousands of them exist, and they all share a common ailment: inventory. Inventory is the reason why visiting a car dealership is considered less desirable that a trip to the dentist. Anytime something that can be labeled inventory builds up—even if it's your email inbox—it creates pressure to reduce or eliminate it, a pressure that falls squarely on the user.


Repetitive unnecessary movement is simply waste. It might take the form of traveling to do something, walking to another building for a meeting, traipsing down the hall to use a copier or even hunting and pecking through a shared computer drive to chase down needed information—unnecessary motion does little other than suck time, productivity and cost.


Everyone has experienced a defect of some kind: errors, inaccurate or incomplete information, flawed products…the list things that don't work the way they should is endless. Receiving something purported to be finished and requiring no further effort—but that in reality is something you have to fix first before using—is one of the most annoying forms of waste. There's only one other form more aggravating.


Tom Petty had it right: the waiting is the hardest part. For most people, waiting is the most irritating form of waste. Whether it's an endless, unmoving queue, being stuck in idle while you wait for an approval to proceed, or simply a slow connection speed, we've all experienced waiting, and the accompanying sense of helplessness and lost productivity.

Where is the waste in your business, and what are you doing to eliminate it?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

via Alltop RSS Matt Sileno The Intuitive Group Inc

8233 Old Courthouse Rd Ste 330 Vienna V.A. 22182

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