“Learning About Lean” is one of three blogs written by a gentleman named Joe Ely (no, not the Tex-Mex singer). As stated on one of his other blogs, Mr. Ely is in charge of manufacturing at a Midwest maker of medical devices. Dry, you say? No, sir.
Many of the posts offer clever, engaging looks inside his daily work experience with observations and reflections that may be applied elsewhere in business.
Still many more bring a Zen-like approach to efficiency, simplicity and elegance of process in a wide range of life situations:
- Getting stopped for speeding brings comparisons to industrial “non-standard work” impeding progress; applied here, it lengthens his trip
- During a trip to Italy, pointing up a supermarket’s ingenious, customer-empowering cart-return method
- Reducing staff while increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction at a resort – all with little flags on the backs of cabana chairs.
- A meditation on “Simple” vs. “Simplistic”
- “Lean” applied at his kid’s school in the making of 5,000 apple pies with a volunteer staff.
Throughout, “Lean” – always capitalized – indicates a construct encompassing many ideals, including “Gemba“, a Japanese term meaning literally “the place where the truth can be found”.
In quality management, “Gemba” is the manufacturing floor, a place where Ely observes that bosses don’t spend enough time. A 2002 post indicts management’s isolation and the quality-control problems caused by their “hunches”. The post concludes simply that “being in Gemba knocks down hunches”.
Much to like and learn here.