Please start by reading Lean Thinking: An Introduction – Part 1.
By this time I started to try and introduce lean principles into my workplace but I found it incredibly difficult. There were a number of reasons why I failed to implement what I had learned.
I thought because I had read a few books on lean principles that I was a lean expert. In reality I had only just scratched the surface and was just a very enthusiastic reader. This belief that I was in control of the information contained in the book brought about my next problem.
I was not in control of the information I had absorbed. In my haste to change everything with very limited knowledge of what I was doing, I lacked the ability to explain myself properly. This type of wishy-washy behaviour put people off my ideas. I was working in an industry that didn’t like to change and here I was trying to change it in a half-arsed fashion.
Nobody wanted to change. The changes that I wanted to implement would bring long-term benefits, but the ideas seemed radical and scary to most. I wanted to eliminate positions that I thought were wasteful and redeploy personnel in jobs that were more rewarding and helped the company as well as the employee. The employees were scared to death that they would lose their employment and my senior managers wanted to lose employees. It was a catch-22 situation.
Manufacturing versus Service
I was trying to incorporate lean manufacturing principles in a service industry. This difference might not be such a problem for the authors of the book – or experienced practitioners of lean principles – but it was for this guy. All I had was a head full of ideas and a good heart and it wasn’t enough.
I then had a stroke of luck when my boss decided to retire and his replacement was a Six Sigma Black Belt. At last I had someone within my company that was on my wavelength. I needed to get to him quick, before the industry turned him, like Anakin Skywalker. Within the first few months he had sent me to Cardiff University to attend a course called Lean in Service.
During my course I started to fall in love with lean. I realised that I couldn’t go back to my old job. There was no way that I could implement the new knowledge that I had attained. The world had just been gripped by the biggest economic crisis in my lifetime. Lean in Service was like a dying carcass and my bosses had given me the role of vulture. It was to be a case of all the cost cutting of lean with none of the added value, productivity and happiness.
So in the end I decided to leave my old role behind. 19-years to the day that I joined I departed vowing never to work for anyone ever again. The way I saw it, if I wanted to create a business environment the way I believe it should be created – the lean way, I would have to do it leading from the front. This little piggy was fed up of having his house blown down. Wolves were a thing of the past. Nobody was ever going to tell me what to do ever again.
I joined a life-coaching programme and started to transform my personal life. All the time lean principles and the power to transform people and organisations were nestled away in my mind. I gave up drinking alcohol, abandoned my sports betting habit, parted from my wife, left my home, lost all my possessions and created a new job as a poker player and writer despite being crap at poker and not having written anything since I was in school.
I now had a life purpose: To use my experience, passion and drive to teach and inspire others to excel in their work and family lives. I created a blog called www.needyhelper.com and made a promise to write 100 consecutive blog posts and to read 52 books in 52 weeks. It was during the reading of the books that my learning started to accelerate. I started to choose books that I felt would improve areas of my life that needed improving. I was going through a divorce and so I bought books on how to improve relationships. I was unhealthy and unfit and so I read books on nutrition and lifestyle. I was in debt and so I bought books on finance. Each book fired up a different neuron in the brain. My life had been transforming from the day of the dusty cup of tea but now it was moving at Usain Bolt like pace.
Then one day I wrote ten blog posts about the ten most influential books in my life. The Machine That Changed The World and Lean Thinking came out of the dark for the first time in a while and I skimmed through them as I wrote my posts. Then out of nowhere it struck me. I have always wanted to introduce lean principles into my workplace in order to improve people’s working lives. Here I was the boss of my own company. I am my company. There is no fancy title and I don’t even have a company name. I am Lee Davy and I make money by writing whilst trying to think of a way to touch people’s hearts. Lee Davy is a business system and all business systems can be transformed by the introduction of lean principles.
Welcome to Lean Life.