Everyday Lean


I've been very interested in applying lean to daily work routines and practices and have been (unfortunately very slowly) working on a series of posts that provide various ideas and examples on how lean practices can be applied to every day tasks. The article and post on Too Much Email is an excellent example of easily identifiable waste that should be eliminated from daily routines. There are many more general business processes that are ripe to be examined from a lean perspective.

My goal with these posts is not only to identify opportunities to make your work, and the work of those around you more efficient but to also create examples across organizations and functions of lean ideas implemented in a setting that everyone will readily understand. I'm sure many have seen an office supply cabinet with visual controls and a kanban system for replenishment to show how these tools can reduce inventory and wasted time. I hope to stretch this thinking, build on every day examples and use the blog to document ideas and comments from everyone.

Look for some Everyday Lean posts to start in the next few days. I really encourage everyone to participate in discussions by adding your own comments, references or experiences. I also welcome ideas for additional posts in this area.

3/15/06 Everyday Lean: Email Inventory

3/17/06: Everyday Batch: Rental Car Shuttle

3/21/06: Everyday Lean: Online Bill Pay

3/29/06: Lean Blog: Everyday Lean – Managing Your Files

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Luke Van Dongen
Luke, an auto industry engineering veteran, blogged here from 2005 to 2006.


  1. Luke, thanks again for taking the lead on this feature. If anyone else has ideas for “everyday lean”, please email me using the link on the left hand side of the page. More to come from Luke, a few to come from me. It’s fun looking for examples of lean concepts and lean opportunity in everyday life.

  2. I’ve started applying Lean Six Sigma to my work travel process, especially now that I always travel. Some specific areas addressed:

    – Unpacking/repacking. Gravitating toward owning 2 of all critical items (toiletries, umbrella, chargers) so that one set can stay in the suitcase. If I go to a repeat location (back to back weeks) then I try to keep a small bag on-site rather than lug things back and forth.

    – Travel planning. I spend way too much time making arrangements, changing arrangements, etc., even with a travel agent. Would love some best practices to copy.

    – Airport entry. Looking to streamline the whole process from my home to the gate. I usually drive and park, so I’m searching for the optimal spot to park near an entry point with a special security line for ff’s. Also getting better at wearing shoes, belt, watch that can make it through the machine. As a sidenote, I use the kiosk at the airport instead of checking in at home because it seems to be a leaner process overall for my preferred airline.

    Maybe someone knows of a website where these things are discussed?

  3. http://www.flyertalk.com often has discussions about things like this. My company’s travel website has a “template” feature, so if I’m booking the same travel for multiple weeks (same flights, hotel, and car), I can use the template and just enter the new dates…. saves time and clicks in re-booking.

    I like flying out of DFW because instead of one huge giant security line per terminal, they have security lines spread out all along the terminal. Instead of one giant queue, the lines are very short. Instead of parking and having to walk the whole length of the terminal, I park right in parallel with my gate (granted, it’s the more expensive garage parking) and use the closest security area. Seems like a lean design/process to me compared to other airports. I also use the “TollTag” on my car, which allows me to not stop at a payment gate in or out of the airport. That gets me home a minute faster or so when I arrive.

    And I’m sure you know not to pack a bag :-)


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