For this month, submit your ideas of Everyday Lean for the change to win a free copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean. Everyday Lean is how lean principles help make stuff if everyday life easier, simpler and more effective. Here are more submissions from the readers of

1. If you're hungry, you can appreciate this one:

Going to Schlotzky's for a sandwich, I got my food on a plastic basket. When I went to dispose of my trash, the food went in, but the opening in the trash can was too small to throw the basket away. Poka yoke of trash removal to save losses on materials.

I also have something that I view as an example of better flow from another fast food restaurant. When you go in to a Subway, you order your sandwich, follow it down the line, have it built to your specifications and pay for it in a (mostly) single flow. When you go to McDonalds, there is a batch of orders where you pay before you get your food, a batch of food waiting to be assembled, and a batch of finished orders in various stages waiting for the customers. Subway has better flow, better customer satisfaction (built to order), less WIP, and less chance for mistakes.

2. Any parent or teacher can appreciate this one (see photo):

Here is an example of everyday lean and it comes from my 3 year old son's class room. His teachers have taken visual tools like daily touch meetings, 5S and schedule boards to help manage their daily activities. His class room is a great example of a visual work environment. Here are some examples. 5S – All toys and activities are clearly identified with a visual location for everything. During clean up anyone can easily identify where a toy goes by looking at a picture that illustrates what should be located there. It is also obvious if something is missing.

Daily Touch Meetings and Schedule Boards – To help the children know what activities are planned for the
day, they start every morning with a standard 5 minute meeting to review the day ahead. They always begin by discussing the Daily Job Board which lists all possible jobs and the name of the child assigned to each task. In case anyone is absent they have already built in a safety factor by assigning a daily substitute. After jobs, the group reviews their daily schedule. This is a pictorial map with each picture illustrating an activity. The pictures are different sizes to depict different time allotments, for example a large picture signifies 40 minutes, a medium picture 20 minutes and small picture 5 minutes.

3. Here's one that plays on the popularity of the iPod:

This one ties more in to the new Lean Solutions book, but the concept of digital download music services (like iTunes) seems to fit in to several of Womack's criteria for the book. Giving the customer exactly what they want (only the song(s) they want, not an album full of songs they may or may not want), where/how they want it (digital format that can be taken anywhere), and when they want it (downloading from home on their own time instead of having to go to the store or order a cd and wait for delivery). I can't speak for the actual ease of use of the website, but I have heard nothing but good things about it and it does fit in to the model pretty well.

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Jamie Flinchbaugh
Jamie Flinchbaugh is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success spanning finance, manufacturing, automotive, and management consulting. Leveraging extensive operational experience, Jamie is an invaluable asset for a company seeking expert guidance with process improvements, lean strategies, and leadership coaching in order to transform operations, reduce costs, and drive profitability. His areas of expertise include continuous improvement, entrepreneurship, coaching and training, process transformation, business strategy, and organizational design.


  1. The one thing about iTunes that violates the idea of having the product “where” you want it is that the songs work only on iPods or CDs that you burn. That said, some of the Windows Media format stores (like Napster) are even worse about compatibility, where sometimes the songs don’t work even on their approved players. I have an iPod and the entire system works very very well, I’ll give them that. Someone (Apple) designed an entire system (software, store, and player) as opposed to a “system” designed by multiple players (Microsoft, Napster, and Creative) that just doesn’t work as well.

    So I guess that’s a vote for a single company designing a closed system that “just works”?

  2. Quiznos is a better example of flow than Subway, I think. Quiznos has a great flow oven, while Subway introduced non-flow “batch ovens” that take the sandwich out of the regular flow.

  3. I hate Quiznos for flow. Sure, they layout is nice (oven in the middle). But the work is highly non-standard, they take an enormous amount of time fussing with ingredients and measuring them out (something that could be done in advance, like Subway does) and I think every time I’m there they ask me on both sides of the oven whether or not it is to go or not, and still sometimes get it wrong.

  4. You must have a bad Quiznos by you. One of the problems with the franchise restaurants is their lack of consistency in method and process. You’d think a “Standard Work” manual is something the franchisee would get for their fees.

    I’ve seen many good standard method tools at Quiznos: A cutting board with template lines to show where to cut for different size breads and very visual standard work (with pictures) posted all throughout the back counter.

    If one is good in these regards, they should all be good. The whole “for here or to go” thing would be very annoying, I agree.


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