Everyday Lean Contest Update


There is not much time left in our contest for the best examples of everyday lean. The contest will continue running until the end of May. We are looking for the best examples of lean in our everyday lives – from home, from traffic, from the store…anywhere. The best submission will win a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean. You can check out the book at Amazon.com including 16 reader comments, as well as free content and more at http://www.hitchhikersguidetolean.com/. If you have an idea on everyday lean, please submit it using this form. Here are two submissions from our readers:

Submission 1 (this one covers a lot of ground):

A couple of suggestions for the Everyday Lean topic, these related to Lean at home.
* The dual alarm clock can help in a couple of ways. The typical use would be to reduce from 2 alarm clocks to one for a couple. I actually use it to keep 2 alarm times set because I frequently need to get a slightly earlier start in the day and don't need to continually set the alarm back and forth.
* One could turn the water on for the shower before they get in there to allow the water to heat up and do something productive for the minute or two the water is getting up to temperature.
* Installing sunlight, time and/or motion sensors to light fixtures to have lights turn on only when they are needed and eliminates the problem of forgetting to turn them on or off.
* Installing some sort of guard on the gutters can help prevent them from getting clogged up with leaves, etc. saving the trouble of cleaning them out if they get blocked. (True root cause problem solving would probably take it one step further back and cut down all trees in the area so that leaves aren't created in the first place, but in my case that's not an option.)

Submission 2 (this one is bound to draw some comments, but the example is sound):

Once example of mistake proofing that I like in real life is how birth control pills are packaged. Instead of getting them in a bottle, they are either in a dispenser or in a card with the days of the week so you can easily tell if you have taken the pill for the day or not. You are also on the medication for 21 days and then wait a week to start them up again and the manufacturers provide placebo pills at the bottom to keep you in the habit of taking them every day.

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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. Are other daily pills packaged that way? It’s an example of “visual management”, you can see the status of “did I take that pill already?” very easily and without too much technology.

    I read about, this might be just a concept, a pill bottle with a timer that beeps every day to remind you to take the pill(s).

    As our population ages, in particular, this is a critical problem to solve, error proofing the delivery of medications to seniors.

  2. To the shower-running point… you have to be careful with the waste of excess water that flows (2.5 gallons/min?) while you’re waiting for it to get hot. There’s a fine line. If you’re using that shower warm up time to, say, brush your teeth rather than waiting until after your shower, that’s a good example of sequencing work properly to reduce throughput time.

    There are some types of home hot water systems that continuously circulate hot water so you don’t have to wait for the hot water to get from a traditional water heater.

    You save water, but the tradeoff is extra energy cost to keep the whole system hot throughout all the pipes.

  3. The thing about the birth control pills is that it is Poke Yoke. I take my pills at the same time each evening so that I don’t get confeused with whether I have taken my pills or not, but if I get distracted during my routine, I sometimes cannot recall whether I took a particular pill or not. This makes it obvious and keeps you from taking a second in case you forgot the first.

  4. Having some chronic health problems, I have to take some pills in the morning, some at night, some on an empty stomach, etc. I know I’m certainly not to the only one, as it seems the older you get the more pills you have to take.

    One thing I’ve always wanted to do, if I had the programming skills, is to develop a program for Drs. or pharamacists that will print out a chart with each pill the patient is taking (including picture) with columns for various times of day icons and either another picture of the pill or a checkmark to show when the person takes it. It would be a helpful visual key for the elderly, and nonenglish speaking people. I’ve heard stories for spanish speaking misreading “once a day” to “11 a day” since “once” is 11 in Spanish

    Kathy Moran


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