This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on LEAN.

If you grew up with my generation, then you no doubt remember the anti-drug ad with the frying pan and the egg. The message was simple and the ad, if nothing else, left a mark.

Before writing this article, I was driving down the road thinking about our production flow and thought to myself that I am brain fried right now with this LEAN stuff!

We have been implementing LEAN at a rapid pace and have no intention of ever stopping. Once the little light bulb goes off in your head about the implications of LEAN there is no going back.


it's everywhere

You can’t unsee waste. Once you start viewing the world through waste goggles you start realizing it (waste) is everywhere.

When I first started down the LEAN road I was almost upset that we were so far off track. But when we all started improving, things started to change at a rapid clip.



We like the ideas in the book 2 Second Lean because they are easy to implement, easy to understand, and easy to sustain.  


The pillars of Improvement

We guide all of our improvements with 3 pillars.


  1. Continuous Improvement

  2. Eliminate Waste

  3. Create Value for our Customers


Put a different way, we often say in our morning standup meetings that we create value for our customers by eliminating waste through continuous improvement.  

In this article we will dive into the pillars and use them as a foundation for future articles about LEAN.


Pillar 1: Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement sounds easy and at the core it really is, but in practice, it can often be hard to sustain.  

I think that one way is to ALWAYS have a morning meeting. You can make the agenda whatever you like but always meet every morning. We start at 7am, 3S (Sweep, Sort, Standardize) for 30 minutes then we have our meeting, which is about 10-15 minutes long. This meeting is a time we talk about LEAN concepts, improvement, changes we need to make and so on.  



One of my favorite morning topics to discuss is work presentation. We are slowly making a change in our thinking inside the shop.

The thought goes like this; The CNC operator looks at the edgebander operator as it’s customer, the bander looks to the dowel machine, dowel machine looks to the sorter and so on.  

"If we look at the next person in the line as our customer then all the sudden we may go the extra mile to help make their job easier."

So often in the shop we just get focused on our task as our only job. However, if we look at the next person in the line as our customer then all the sudden we may go the extra mile to help make their job easier.  

What if the operator can present their work in such a manner that it makes the next person's job much easier? In our operation, it has started a conversation that did not take place before now.

This is where I believe we will see the biggest payoff of LEAN.  


Pillar 2: Eliminate Waste

Eliminating waste is where my brain goes on tilt. Every time I walk through the shop, all I see is waste. It is everywhere. Everywhere!

We have made over 100 improvements and counting but there is still waste everywhere we look.  At first we were hacking waste out in large chunks and now we are working on smaller tasks, making them easier and easier as we go.  

"We are producing about 20% more work with one less person."

The effect on our shop so far has been amazing! We are producing about 20% more work with one less person than before and we still have room to get better.  

I spend a lot of time on the shop floor looking at our process and figuring out a better way to do it. What I have noticed is that the employees are getting more into LEAN because they are starting to see that it makes their lives easier.  

Basically eliminating waste starts with taking an honest look at our shop and fixing what bugs you.  


Pillar 3: Creating Value for the Customer

The great thing about eliminating waste and continuous improvement is it ultimately provides the customer with more value.  

"Once the little light bulb goes off in your head about the implications of LEAN, then there is no going back."

Customers don’t pay us to carry boards around the shop, or ship incomplete orders, or have non-utilized talent in the shop. They pay us for a complete, well-built product that is on time and in budget.  

This is what drives me personally to forward the LEAN thinking in our shop. I want our customers to love our products and never question that they are getting a great value.  


you will become the best

This is my brain on LEAN. You can’t unsee waste so at times your brain might seemed fried from all the waste you see but just remember one thing; If you strive to be the best and continuously improve, then, regardless of where you start, you WILL eventually become the best.  

Where are you starting from? Do you see waste all around you? Do you want to improve but don’t know where to start?  

Download our improvement guide that gives you 10 areas of improvement to start with that will surely jumpstart your LEAN journey.