Applying Lean Principles Beyond the Workplace
Lean relates to reducing waste of any form in any industry. For the logistics industry, that’s the waste of materials and products, order processing, and employee time as well as loss of sales throughout the supply chain, but is there a way to apply lean principles to your home life? We promise not to turn this blog into some Pinterest lifestyle content, but a recent conversation amongst some colleagues sparked an idea. Everyone at Taylor has practiced the art of the lean business approach – and for a good reason. It helps companies decrease costs and cultivate leadership qualities in team members. After talking a bit about it, we discovered that many members of our team had implemented lean principles to life outside of Taylor. In some cases, we didn’t even realize we were doing it; lean is simply taking over.
5S is a workplace organization method common in lean companies. It is used to create and maintain an organized, clean, and safe workplace through the following five steps: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain. What might this look like at home?
Sort: Remove clothing and other items that you don’t frequently use so that you will have easy access to the things you do enjoy.
Straighten: Keep items close to where they will be used.
Shine: Immediately clean and carefully store small appliances and cooking equipment after use.
Standardize: Have a set day for tasks like changing the sheets or vacuuming the upholstery.
Sustain: Reassess your success concerning the above regularly.
Focus on Value
Lean doesn’t just dictate what companies do; it also tells them what not to do. Everything that doesn’t add value to the customer is considered waste and is eliminated. Consider your activities and commitments. Are there things you do out of habit or guilt that don’t enrich your life? Maybe arts and crafts with your kids will be a more valuable use of your time than your usual
Eliminate Work in Progress
Just like in professional settings, it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of work in progress you have at home. It’s critical to avoid having a dozen half-finished tasks. For example, if the dryer buzzer dings, don’t stop the task you’re working on to fold the clothes. Wait until you’ve completed that project, then move on to folding the laundry and putting it away. Again, this streamlines processes and ensures tasks are completed rather than being left half-finished.
Lean organizations look for ways to eliminate waste by identifying processes and resources that add value, those that don’t add value but are necessary under current conditions, and those that don’t add value and should be eliminated. Doing this at home can simplify your life and save you time and money. An overcrowded fridge is an example of the waste of inventory. You may let food spoil because you didn’t know it was hiding in the back. The full fridge may be due to making more food than your family can eat, or in Lean terms, overproduction. Once you have an eye toward waste reduction, you’ll likely be surprised by how much you find.