I am convinced more than ever that the application and value of lean is widely recognized and accepted across all industries and segments of industries from hospital, to hotels, to Hollywood productions. Sometimes I forget the broad potential of lean but it was further reinforced from a few recent Lean Learning Center assignments. When working with a lead smelter I was required to wear boots, full overalls, gloves, hard hat, safety glasses, ear plugs, and more importantly, a respirator. The objective is to “protect me from the environment” and thankfully it’s been done safely over and over again. When visiting Intel I am required to wear what is affectionately called a “bunny suit” that covers me from head to toe. The objective in this case is “to protect the environment (clean room) from me”. That’s the exact opposite of the lead smelter. Recently I was observing work with railroad maintenance crews on “live” track. It’s kind of important that I get off the track and move to a position of safety to avoid oncoming trains. In this case I am dressed in full-body florescent orange clothing so I am easily visible to an oncoming train and visible to the other people that are with me. In this case my clothing “protected me from the environment and the environment from me”. These may be silly examples but they do help illuminate (sorry for the pun) this point. Lean principles and practices apply, regardless of industry; it’s only the approach (in my case fashionable clothing) that differs. Not all the tools fit perfectly into every industry or even into different parts of an industry. There is never “one size fits all approach” or one common set of tools, but there are common principles. Stay tuned for more different and unusual applications.
In anything we do and in any situation there are always more than one way to do things, yet often people trying forcing things into pre-defined packages. One of Lean biggest problems is that we have somehow created a society today were people are no longer expected to use common sense. Good old fashioned common sense tells us that not ever situation is the same, yet it also tells us that is always something similar between different situations. Learning to exercise common sense, so that we can find the similarities and recognize the differences is the first step in figuring out what actions need to be taken, and which ones to start with.