Observations Of Lean, Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Posted by Brad Loetz on Jun 20, 2014 12:54 PM


Several blogs ago I wrote about Lean and eliminating waste in
Good...the Enemy of Best! How Can Lean Be Applied To Data Integration?  This article outlined the lean concept, 8 forms of waste, and how the concept might apply to business and data integration for our organizations. 

In eliminating waste we improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our organizations, but how do we identify waste or process improvement opportunities? A recent trip to Europe with my wife and kids provided some interesting insights on ways to identify Lean Integration opportunities.

First, I will start out this was a trip not a vacation.  Trips involve time away from work “with children”, and vacations involve time away from work “without children”Capture.  Because the parenting duties never really stop this was a trip, but a very rewarding one for my wife and I regardless of the aggressive schedule we had planned for our kids across France and Italy during 15 days. 

In spite of some bickering amongst the kids (which may have involved me as well), our teen history buffs were very engaged in the history of Paris, Nice, Monaco, Naples/Pompeii, Rome, Vatican, Florence, and Venice, relating classroom knowledge learned this past year to physical world.  As parents we also discovered while in France that our freshman was far more tuned in while in French class than his grade would indicate.  He could navigate the language and a few situations we found ourselves in while in France impressively!

In our travels the kids made the first observations of differences from back home shortly followed by my wife and myself.  Some of the differences were business process, others cultural, and still more that could be construed lean or waste elimination differences versus everyday life here at home.

Here are a few of our observations:

  • Most trash bags in our apartments were formerly shopping bagsBrad_Lean_Pic
  • Many retail stores charged extra for shopping bags
  • To Go or “Take Away” food and/or beverage orders were up charged for the disposable containers
  • American recycling consists of 2 containers, one recyclables and one landfill…European recycling 5-7 categories
  • Plastic cards attached to room keys where HVAC systems were only operable while key/card/people were in the room
  • Differential food and beverage pricing at Cafés and Brasseries…those taking table space charged more than those standing at the bar visiting briefly
  • “Café” and pastry purchases started with the cashier, then with your receipt you proceed with receipt to the line forming to be served by baristas
  • Credit typically accepted by tourist dining establishments while off the path establishments only accepted cash      
There are more observations but for this article you see that many of these differences serve to conserve resources and others up charge the customer for additional consumption.  Both of these lean concepts…

So how does one come up with ideas to eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness in your integration operation?  Our vacation based observations came from getting out of our normal environment.  Here is a list of some other ways you might spawn ideas about continuous improvement and waste elimination…   

  • Examine industry based best practices
  • Examine country/global based best practices
  • Conference/trade show attendance and networking
  • Inquire with peers inside your organization but outside your group
  • Network with other integration personnel in your business network (trading partners)
  • Inquire with coworkers in your group that have been newly hired from other organizations
  • Examine research pieces from organizations like Gartner, Aberdeen, etc.

And finally, you can engage with a consulting or professional services organization that has seen and performed process improvement initiatives with and for clients across a wide variety of environments and organizations.   

Consider how REMEDI might assist with initiatives you face given the assessment offer below…

 Get a Complimentary Integration/EDI Assessment

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