Many of us have heard these mantras (or some version of them):
“People like change, but nobody wants to change” or “People want to do change, but don’t want change done to them”
I live in a home with 5 adults, three children, two dogs, six chicken and a cat. Needless to say, there are challenges involved in implementing change (never mind the challenges of just knowing if the animals have been fed). Although there are many areas in my home that are ripe for improvement, it is necessary to move slowly.
Why the need for slow movement? Like many of you have encountered in a professional setting, people hold on to their processes emotionally. This reluctance to change is amplified in a home setting. This is for a variety of reasons: sentimentality, need for control, and sometimes just stubbornness.
Because of these reasons it is important to recognize and encourage opportunities to change, and to take advantage (and encourage improvements) when the “window of opportunity” is open.
One area of contention in the home has been the laundry room. Unlike in an industrial environment, home settings often prioritize form over function. This can lead to frustration in shared work spaces (like that laundry room I mentioned).
Recently, however, my wife implemented a great idea that will help improve our laundry processes in the house. The problem statement is that her “hang dry only” clothes often are put into the dryer, resulting in shrinkage. All incidents have been the result of other people in the household putting her wet clothes into the dryer (sometimes in an effort to access the clothes washer, sometimes just as a nice gesture of helpfulness). Because of the hectic nature of the household it has proven impractical to rely on scheduling of the laundry facilities, and we have no desire to eliminate the helpful activities we do for one another. Plus, sometimes we get distracted and lose track of laundry before putting it into the dryer.
So we have struggled to find a way to communicate… Until now, that is! In a display of the simplest solutions being the best, my wife used a dry-erase marker to write a note on the top of the washer. Problem solved – No more shrinking clothes! It’s easy to work with and follow directions without upsetting other peoples’ work flows. There’s no mandatory usage requirement for the system, but it is available if needed.
Waste is eliminated. In Lean terms, there are improvements in: Wait Times, Overproduction, Defects, and Under Utilization of resources. Best of all: nobody forced change upon anyone else, and nobody feels like they are being forced to do something against their nature.
Yes, Lean is a system. It is a collection of tools, techniques, concepts, and applications that creates amazing gains in productivity. It works most effectively as a “way of life”, but those concepts can be applied individually to solve individual problems as well.
Now, if I could just get a process in place to ensure the clean clothes don’t end up in a pile… Any ideas?