Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Elevate the Ordinary
The dictionary defines ordinary as something that is of no special interest or quality; something that is commonplace.
In the lean world of process improvement, does our view of the ordinary sometimes eclipse our thinking so that we overlook the small and commonplace ways that we can make improvements in our organizations? It’s true that kaizen and kaikaku events play a significant role in generating excitement and moving a process or organization to a new and better level, but let’s not overlook the ordinary things in our daily work, those quick hits on the value graph.
For example moving a particular desk closer to the photocopier to facilitate work flow or rearranging the coffee area to more easily handle the early morning coffee crowd. Over the years our clients have shared with us, the powerful effects that small changes can have. At one locally based Vancouver company, the simple daily task of a five to ten minute morning huddle did wonders for the organization.
Our way of viewing lean process improvements can elevate the ordinary and since the ordinary happens more than the extraordinary, opportunities abound. So, how might we approach elevating the ordinary? At Toyota everyone is considered to be a problem solver and a teacher. Each person, being an “expert” in their area or job function is in a strategic position to offer suggestions for improvement and he/she also bears the responsibility to teach others and share the learning (yokoten) Some of the ideas may be small but over time these little improvements drive the organization to a whole new level.
Rise to the challenge - elevate the ordinary and watch those small, seemingly ordinary ideas, translate into a leaner organization that changes mindsets and offers customers a higher level of value.