In this book, through the experiences of Missy, Erika, Todd, Chloe,
David, Theron, and many other characters, we demonstrated how to
apply the principles of Lean operations management in everyday life.
After each story, we described the relevant generalizable principles,
and through brain play questions we challenged you to apply these
principles to your own personal and business- related situations. In this
manner, our goal was to help you build better judgment and decision-
making power. When you can see and recognize that something can be
better, and you are familiar with the tools that are available to improve
the situation, then you can take action.
None of the concepts presented in this book was rocket science, none
of the tools required solving a numeric equation, and none of the solu-
tions was technology based. We did not use these types of analytics.
This book is a testament to our view that Lean is common sense, vigor-
ously applied.
Instead, we advocate the use of easy visual management
tools and a bias for simplicity. We believe that in doing so, there are
huge benefits to be gained, not only in people’s private lives but also in
their businesses.
We like to say that “operations management starts at home.” When you
use your own life and the areas over which you have direct control to
begin experimenting with the techniques in this book, you can cus-
tomize your approach on many levels and quickly build experience
and judgment. The accessible nature of aspects of your life that you
most closely control can allow you to set priorities in both funding
and sequencing—you choose how to begin and which form of muda
to tackle next. You can also use a rapid- cycle experimentation format,
testing new ideas, monitoring results, and adjusting on the fly. By prac-
ticing these approaches at home, you will quickly see an impact on
Attributed to Larry Culp, CEO of Danaher Corporation.
your personal productivity. Be prepared to reinvigorate your life with
the resources and time you free up as a result of your efforts!
To start, choose the concepts that you think will help you address a
pressing problem, either at work or at home. Implement a small change
that caught your eye from the book, and observe the results. Over time,
you will become adept at recognizing waste and thinking through
which concepts might help to eliminate it. Recognizing waste is always
the first step.
We’ve assembled a short list of advice for the first- time or veteran pro-
cess improver:
Don’t let perfect get in the way of better. Momentum is far more
important than being right.
Stay the course if you don’t see the progress you want right away.
Don’t get discouraged. If things dont seem to be going well, back
up and reconsider, but press on.
Lean is the only race you lose by finishing. It’s the relentless
pursuit that matters. Your goal is not to improve; your goal is to
improve the process of improving.
Some people equate Lean with laying people off. In most sce-
narios, people can be redeployed. This can have the dual result of
repositioning your company for growth and staffing that growth
at the same time.
Its the people! Your goal must be to develop your team and to
empower them to be part of the improvement process.
The key to Living Lean is learning to ask, “What’s possible?” The suc-
cessful Lean leader doesn’t need to know all the answersbut he or
she needs to be able to engage the people who do know. Empowerment,
encouragement, and enthusiasm are all important elements of a suc-
cessful Lean conversion. Lean is a balance between being able to
envision what might be possible and understanding how to apply the
concepts and techniques that can move an environment from what is
toward what might be.
You can’t do this on your own. It involves the engagement of your
friends, family, and coworkersso share the stories, and share your own
successes. Just as Chloe said in the final story as she discussed her

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