What is Lean?

I’ve officially reached my one year anniversary of being a PIC here in the Office of Continuous Improvement. The amount of knowledge, experiences, and people that I’ve met in the past 12 months have far surpassed any expectations that I had when I was on-boarding. One question that I frequently get asked is, “what do you do for your job,” and I blandly answer, “I work with Lean and Continuous Improvement.” Now, I say blandly because my intention is to strike curiosity and to create a dialogue between us- the response to my vague answer is almost always scrunched up eyebrows and, “Lean?”

A year ago, I also had no idea what Lean was, I started my job as a PIC¬†happy to have employment year round. I often tell people that when I started, I was also asking what Lean was and I thought it was referring to physically leaning over. It wasn’t until around my third month that I began forming an elevator pitch. Now, I have a little more solidarity to my response… Lean is like a house, with many rooms. Each room offers something a little different, but together it makes walls, floors, a roof, a home to grow in. Lean is whatever you make it to be, and this is allowed because of the foundation it is built on-top of. Lean consists of a culture that promotes tapping into a different depth of your brain so that you can use this knowledge to help bridge the gap between current and future state through root cause analysis. Lean is about solving problems to be able to understand why the root cause is functioning (or not) the way it is. Lean is about being open minded to change, differences, others, and to growth. Lean is about eliminating waste, in-order to increase efficiency, productivity, and safety for all processes and people involved. Lean is about creating standards for doing things, but also being flexible for each individuals need. Lean is a lifestyle, filled with many aspects, and advantages. I’d like to remind you, that this is lean in my eyes as of today, it will change again a little in a month, and even more in another year. It’s also important to note that due to the flexibility of lean it is going to be different for everyone.

I’ve found that Lean cannot be easily defined or phrased without feeling like the parameters defining it are too constricting. Lean is able to provide a broad application of life changing habits if you remain open-minded.

One Comment on "What is Lean?"

  • Theresa Coleman-Kaiser
    March 15, 2017 at 12:09 PM

    Great reflection Rylie. Your growth has been phenomenal. It’s nice to here from you at the one-year milestone.