9 Tips On How To Implement Lean At Home

9 Tips On How To Implement Lean At Home

Over the years I have heard front-line associates say, “It feels like they’re imposing lean on us.” Middle managers often feel threatened as lean principles expose problems at their levels. There is also a fear that making a process too lean can create a different set of issues or circle back around to the same issues you desired to eliminate. You may recall an article in the Wall Street Journal by Daisuki Wakabayashi, “How Lean Manufacturing Can Backfire,” that supported the concept that Toyota's recent problems are associated with standardization.

However, I am not of the same mindset. I love lean! In my opinion, companies that have adopted lean and created a lean culture:

  • Are the most competitive
  • Produce at the highest quality
  • Make progress by innovation
  • Have the most resilient supply chain networks

In addition, lean creates opportunities for organizations and can increase the workforce instead of “cutting jobs.”

I believe in lean to such an extent that I have implemented some of the concepts in my home. And trust me; my wife LOVES me for it! The other day she stated she had planned to do some laundry later that afternoon. Our laundry basket is upstairs while our machines are downstairs. Later that day, the following exchange occurred:

Wife goes upstairs and returns down empty handed.Laundry Cartoon

Me: "I thought you were going to do laundry."

Wife: "I am, but not right now."

Me: "Then why didn’t you bring down the basket? You’ll have to go back upstairs later. That type of waste is called unnecessary travel!"

Guess who did the laundry that day?

Another example of my passion for lean is the use of visual aids around the house - especially 5S. Refrigerator shelf heights are designed with a similar approach used for warehouse racking. The heights of shelves vary for different product heights in order to maximize cube utilization. So, every morning I wake up and head to the refrigerator to retrieve our coffee (kept in the fridge to keep fresh despite popular opinion) and there are always items in front of the coffee that do not belong on that shelf! After several failed training attempts, I decided to implement a visual aid for compliance. As you can see by the picture, I’m still having compliance issues.


Despite the truth of both of these stories, my wife has yet to divorce me.

Lean in the home will save time, money, and the environment. Below are some helpful tips in implementing lean in your home:

  • Understand why you want to “lean out” your home. What are your expectations and deliverables?
  • Set goals. They could be time saving initiatives, money saving goals or environmental gains with respect to utilities and recycling. Be creative.
  • Communicate the plan with your family. Get your spouse’s buy-in. Fully explain the “why” behind the plan.
  • Teach your family lean principles. Provide them lean tools. Promote lean thinking. Explain the “five whys” for root cause analysis.
  • Encourage and challenge your family. Help them seek out new, lean ways of doing things.
  • Provide positive and educational feedback. Negativity is non value-add.
  • Measure against your goals. How else will you know you're improving?
  • Have FUN! Do something with your family as a reward for their efforts. Consider going out to dinner or taking a trip with the time and money you saved!
  • Don’t let up. Promote lean in everything you do and continue to educate your family and friends. It will benefit them for a lifetime!

Lean doesn’t have to feel “imposed upon.” Have fun with it as you should with everything meaningful in your life. Empower your team members - whether they're employees or family. I’ve been noted saying, “Don’t change the process, change the team members then let them change the process.” To me, lean is not so much about lean tools; it’s about developing a lean culture. Let the culture use the tools to efficiently and expeditiously move your organization through its lean journey.

Do you embrace lean? Are you making if fun? Do your team members know that?

Written by Buddy Vail, Lean Logistics Engineer at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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