The other day I came home from a long day at work and saw that the dishwasher was running. My roommate must have started it. I looked in my cabinets and saw plenty of dishes and plates. Hmmm… Why was it running then? When I opened the dishwasher, it had just a few items inside—items that could have easily been washed by hand if my roommate needed them for dinner. No big deal, right?
My roommate, who is just “not that into” Lean, simply didn’t notice that the machine was running below capacity. It didn’t occur to her. Meanwhile, I’m thinking this is ridiculous and am feeling hyper-aware of wasting water, dishwashing soap, time, and energy.
As if I was a borderline myocardial infarction (heart attack) case, I reminded myself, “Ok, take a breath! This is nothing to stress about!” and then it occurred to me… Lean may just be ruining my life.
I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I see the lean light now! I see it all the time, everywhere, and it isn’t subtle. It’s pretty much like a disco strobe light washing over my life daily.
Where do I see this lean light?
- Waiting in line. Pretty much any line ever. The Department of Motor Vehicles especially, any government agency… oh, and a Saturday morning grocery store line! This drives me bananas! The “10 items or less” line is a good way to segregate demand, but have you noticed it’s inadequately staffed? Customer demand ruins it.
- Airports. Boarding planes makes no sense. For most airlines, the logic of who gets on the plane first is backwards. And don’t even get me started on security check. There is SO much opportunity for improvement when it comes to visual management, communication, process flow, management, on and on. TSA workers deserve better leadership, don’t you think?
- Elevators. Have you ever noticed that they are a batch system? There’s got to be a better way to do it. I spend a lot of time waiting for elevators.
- Rush-hour traffic. A few highways now have “rush-hour lanes” to increase capacity during high volume driving hours, but not all highways are able to do this.
- Pre-set furniture. At 5’10, I do a lot of kneeling down to get into cabinets in my kitchen. My countertop is also too low, so I find myself bending over when I cook. I think a lot about the ergonomics of bending and reaching and how my roommate and I use different spaces.
Ok, I sound like a giant complainer. In truth, I enjoy the challenges presented by the fact that I see waste (wasted time, energy, materials, resources) everywhere! It just means opportunity for improvement is plentiful in the world and there are SO many reasons for us lean thinkers to keep doing what we’re doing and share the learning with others.
How is Lean ruining your life?