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Kaizen at Home, Holiday Style!

Well, we are deep in the heart of the holiday season. Like many of you, I visited some family last week. I happened to be in Spokane, and one night we went out looking at Christmas lights. Just outside the city, there is a barn with a pretty amazing display.

I watched the lights like most people do for a few minutes, but then my Lean thinking took over, and I began to wonder how he did all of the customization. My mind wandered to thoughts about how his display evolved. Obviously, he used a fair amount of kaizen to refine his display.

I’m betting that he started small, but soon had a workspace customized to do the metalworking or customization of the light ropes used for the outlines. That workshop most likely uses some form of 5S to make his production easier-kaizen at home is just as powerful as kaizen at work.

Each generation of animatronics probably gets better as he learns what works and what doesn’t. He has a flier out that says it takes 20 hours to program one minute of a song. He probably gets better at programming the choreography by standardizing the process and reducing waste along the way. That’s a great opportunity for more kaizen at home.

Watching this display reinforced the idea that the fundamentals of Lean are not foreign concepts to people. They intuitively understand the logic behind the principles, and often use them as they perform kaizen at home, even though they don’t call it kaizen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why, despite this alignment between how people manage their home life and what Lean asks people to do at work, some people struggle so much when a company transitions to Lean.


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