Taking Lean Out of the Factory and Into the World

Entrepreneurs are taking the lessons of Lean and expanding them outside the traditional manufacturing world. In Vancouver, British Columbia, former Toyota engineer Shubhendu Sharma is using Lean techniques to plant whole forests in a fraction of the time previously needed. “We needed to standardize the process of forest-making,” said Sharma in a recent TED talk.

By adapting the techniques developed for manufacturing cars to other situations, Lean thinking could provide solutions to many social and environmental challenges. For instance, in San Diego, California, a non-profit focused on tackling hunger, Feeding America San Diego, has partnered with a local college to implement Lean for their food services. Together, they streamlined their scheduling, receiving, ordering, and physical delivery of the food through the use of standardizing best-practices.

By taking Lean techniques out of the factory and into other industries, there are a whole host of new possibilities. Already, web start-ups are looking into using Lean Supply Chain techniques to deliver groceries to customers at home. The music industry is already shying away from bulk production (whole albums) to smaller batches (single mp3s). By eliminating waste and learning how to deliver their services as quickly and efficiently as possible, companies and causes can spend more of their energies towards their core mission.

Consider which industry could benefit most from Lean principles. How would they apply to delivering the services, reducing wait times and eliminating waste? Once you have a Lean mindset, the possibilities are endless.

May 8, 2014

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