If you are trying to solve a big business problem, you likely know there are numerous methodologies that you can use but sometimes it may be helpful to take a step back to a more simplistic level and see if a tool is all that you really need.
A great example of this was when I held a Lean Improvement workshop for a client at a large distribution facility. The reoccurring phrase I heard from a number of people is that the company was literally “bursting at the seams”, which was why they were planning on investing in a new, larger facility because they had reached capacity in their current warehouse.
During the workshop, I trained a small group of 20 people for about an hour on two simple Lean tools, 5S and 8 Wastes. The next two hours the attendees were divided into small teams and were challenged to apply these tools to a specific area of their workspace. When we recapped each team’s experience, what they found is that many of the items in their work areas were rarely used if at all, and those items closer to the top hadn’t been touched in over 10 years! The result was the contents of numerous large storage areas of about 30 feet tall and 12 feet wide were condensed to a handful of 4’ x 4’ boxes. They now had room for the things that they accessed on a daily basis.
After the workshop the client, seeing what type of impact they made in just a couple of hours, ended up re-evaluating the timeline of their move and decided they needed to clean up their space before increasing their space. Not only did it prevent moving unnecessary items, but it had the potential to avoid significant infrastructure costs which was a huge savings for the company. They learned some great Lean tools that empowered their entire workforce which started a cultural shift with an attitude that simple Lean tools can solve big things.
Sometimes it’s not about a big methodology, rather you and your team carving out a few hours to learn some simple Lean tools such as those taught in Acuity Institute’s Lean Foundations course, and then applying them to your workspace is all it takes to have a big impact.