Lean: DO Try This at Home
Mark’s Note: Today’s guest post is from a colleague I have worked with before on a hospital project. Bernita and I worked together at a children’s hospital, as she wrote about here on the HKS blog. Bernita’s post is modified from something she originally shared internally at HKS… the topic of “Lean and Kaizen at home” is something that’s near and dear to my heart (see my previous posts on “Everyday Lean” and Chapter 12 of our book Healthcare Kaizen).
In my role at HKS, a leading architectural firm, I am involved with projects that involve Lean process improvement in hospitals and health systems.
My household would crumble without systematic implementation of Lean strategies. 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) is one such strategy.
Between my two children, there are nine extra- or after-school activities that they participate in. And I know that this will only get worse. Every activity has gear associated with it. We have implemented 5S for each activity.
Every activity has a custom bag (sort, set in order) with a standardized “Par Level.” If an item gets used, it is washed and replaced (shine, standardize, sustain). They take responsibility for this, as it is their activity. On the morning of the activity, they simply need to grab the bag, as everything is there. We also have a few outdoor activity bags that hang by the door that contain sunscreen, Band-Aids, Neosporin, wet wipes, antibacterial gel, and bug spray for soccer games or trips to the playground. We don’t waste time thinking about what we need, because it is already ready and done. In nine years, I can honestly say we have never had to do the “where are my ballet shoes?” scramble.
The past two years, I have traveled about 50% of my time. I spend an average of three to four days away every two weeks. There was a period of time when Chick-fil-a saw my children as much as I did. We also have a nanny three days a week who feeds the kids, but I do not expect her to cook for them. Implementing Lean in our household has helped facilitate home-cooked meals and improved eating habits.
I have menu cards written with about 50 meals that everyone will eat. On weekends, my kids pick meals for the week based on travel, activities, and interest. All recipes are contained in a log where the ingredients needed are pulled to a list and purchased. (You would not need to do this recipe board unless you have a sick twisted addiction to Pinterest and have a laminator) As a result, our refrigerator only contains what we need for a week, and the pantry is the same. Standard work means it is cleaned when items are put away. My freezer is now free of all convenience foods, leaving room for more important things, like coffee and vodka. My kids don’t ask about what is for dinner, because they know and they picked it. We buy less food, healthier food, and we throw less away. Everybody wins. Especially Pinterest, Pinterest always wins.
I could talk about the laundry system, pantry system, toy system and the closet system, but it is important to keep all the crazy contained and only share a little at a time. It works though…I have even caught my nine-year-old daughter creating Standard Work Instructions for her five-year-old sister… and she liked it.
Is there any waste in your current household processes? Write the steps down, and see what you could do to fix them. You can avoid some of the crazy mornings and have more pleasant times with your kids… and Pinterest.
Update: This post was a recipient of a “best of” award by the LeanSelf.org blog:
About Bernita Beikmann, AIA: Bernita is a healthcare architect and the Director of Lean Strategy for the Healthcare Practice at HKS Architects. She has worked with many healthcare systems combining their operational improvement efforts with the design of new facilities. She also works with project teams to facilitate lean within the design and construction process.