Earlier this week, I received a great compliment, courtesy of Matt Wrye at the Beyond Lean blog. In a post entitled, “My Continuous Improvement: Outside the Lean Circle” he names a few non-Lean blogs he likes to read, because they give him perspective on things beyond the borders of his core expertise. Matt writes of My Flexible Pencil:
His blog tag line is “Observations of workplace behavior with an eye for waste and value….and anything else that comes to mind.” David mentions waste and value which lean readers are all over but the blog isn’t about lean. It is great observations of people and behaviors. David does a great job of giving examples for his personal life to bring the ideas to life and make them hit home.
Now that’s just damned encouraging.
True, this is not a lean blog – but I have been heavily influenced by what Lean teaches. Namely, that resources are finite, and it is important to get the most out of whatever you put it in. The folks who created the Lean paradigm, and other organizations that have installed in their people the ability to act in very Lean-like ways, have uncovered ways to maximize not just effort, but value.
Value is a tricky concept. It’s highly complex, I think, and yet oversimplified by many. Lean thinkers would say value is, “Anything the customer is willing to pay for.” Lean’s principles of waste and value, however, can be applied to many things other than just manufacturing, or even services. Lean is, at its heart, about the efficient utilization of resources, and resource utilization can be measured in one of three ways: Money, Time, and Energy.
We’ve all felt the effects of things that are a Waste of Time, a Waste of Money, or a Waste of Energy (or a Good use of Time, Money or Energy, too). Obviously, the three are closely related and Lean teaches how these wastes occur. Over the nearly 16 months that I’ve been writing this blog, it has evolved a bit, but I continue to keep something simple in the back of my mind: That time, money and energy are far too precious to be wasted, and that thinking differently about how we use those resources might help us to conserve them.
Over time, my subject matter has ranged from Lean, Project Management, business strategy, parenting, education and a few other things here and there. The common thread, however, is that by simply doing things as we’ve always done them is the most sure-fire way to waste what little time, money and energy we all have.