Friday, May 23, 2008

Lean @ Home

We use lean manufacturing principles at work, and they provide huge benefits. Why don't we have a "Lean @ Home" program? What would that look like?

According to the National Bestseller, The Machine that Changed the World, lean principles include

  • Teamwork

  • Communication

  • Efficient use of resources and elimination of waste

  • Continuous improvement


A team can take a huge leap forward in performance by simply clearly committing to work toward the common goal. Understanding others’ points of view is sometimes required before moving forward. Sometimes roles must be clarified. At home, teamwork is very important. Working together with the family toward common goals is an important concept. The goals can include financial, educational, spiritual, social, physical fitness, organizing the home, and many others. By agreeing and setting goals, groups living at home move toward success.


Many problems find their root cause in poor communication. In today's world of high technology, there is no excuse for poor communication. At home, we can use e-mail, voice mail, notes on the fridge, and best but maybe least used: talking face to face. Communication is key to achieving a lean home.

Efficient use of resources and elimination of waste

The objective of a lean system is to identify and eliminate waste. There are seven areas of waste identified in the Toyota Production System:

  1. overproduction,

  2. waiting,

  3. transporting,

  4. inappropriate processing,

  5. excessive inventory,

  6. motion,

  7. defects.

Translating this into the home, the wastes become

  1. bad habits occupying time,

  2. non-useful idle time,

  3. commute time,

  4. inefficient methods, including wasted energy

  5. hoarding,

  6. extra steps,

  7. errors.

Continuous Improvement

A key hallmark of continuous improvement is having a system in place to root out problems, discovering and solving them before they impose themselves on you. These systems function well in good companies, and they can save your home life from excessive waste.

Tools used in creating lean enterprises can be adjusted to develop lean homes. The effort is underway at our house and I will update this blog with lessons on the journey.

1 comment:

Eddie said...

Does your wife hate you yet? Good luck with that lean at home thing.