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Monday, June 6, 2011

Lean Practiced at Your Home Away From Home

Many Lean practitioner remark about the examples of Lean thinking they find in their travels.  I recently had a trip away from home for training (USA hockey Coaches training) where I found some examples worth sharing.

Here is a good example of a simple poka yoke and standard work posted at point of use. So first of all the black disc is heavy like paper weight so it keeps the cord on the desk where you want it.  They slide a simple rubber grommet over the connector to prevent the cord from sliding through the hole in the black disc.  The disc has the instructions printed on it so that you can easily connect to the internet.

Here is an example of a kanban signal.  Hotels try to conserve energy and water by reducing the number of laundry runs.  They do this by giving the hotel guest the option to use their towels and linens  multiple times if they stay multiple nights.  So in this case you place this card on the bed if you want to tell the hotel maid to change the linens or towels.  It signals replenishment from their inventory of clean linens.  On the back of the card (not pictured) are the instructions explaining this process.

Here is an example of point of use storage and standard work instructions.  Next to the coffee machine in the room are the coffee supplies.  Everything you need is neatly stored in one place.  All coffee machines are different so the hotel has printed and placed instructions for operating this machine locally to avoid confusion.

The last example is that of a visual indicator.  This placard can be put on your door to indicate that you are still sleeping in your room and you don't want to be interrupted.  By placing this signal on the door the maid knows to skip your room and go to the next available room.

These examples which are common in many hotels certainly make traveling and staying away from home easier.  You can also see how it helps the hotel provide the service you need during your stay. As a Lean practitioner I am always interested in examples of Lean thinking. They can serve as great learning opportunities.  We are often surrounded by them but struggle to recognize them. Can you recognize Lean thinking around you?

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