Lean Six Sigma Office

Most people think of Lean as applicable to the factory floor, but isn't an office building the factory floor for white collar work? 

In the March 21-27, 2011 Business Week, Eric Spitznagel reports that:

  • 59 percent of workers admitted hiding office supplies from colleagues.
  • 46 percent had trouble deciding what to throw away

From a Lean perspective, what is office supply hoarding? Excess inventory. 
What is failure to throw stuff away? Failure to 5S the workplace.

Spitznagel goes on to theorize that the root cause of office clutter is fear; what if I throw this away and need it later? 

And that's just the I for Inventory in the speed bumps of Lean. What about everything else in DOWNTIME: 

One of the biggest delays: decision making and sign offs. How long does it take and how long should it take to make decisions? Why do so many documents require several layers of signoff? 

Ever see people making copies of documents that no one will ever read? 

Waste and Rework 
Mistakes result in waste and rework. Look in any cubicle trash can and you'll find evidence of waste and rework. 

Non-value Added Processing 
I worked with one IT architecture group who had self managed themselves into 80 hour work weeks producing IT architectures that no one wanted. Just because you're doing it doesn't mean it has value. We used to turn off reports every so often just to see if anyone was reading them. Most of the time, no one was. 

How much unnecessary movement of materials occurs in the office? 

How many out-of-date forms reside in closets? 

How much unnecessary movement of people occurs on the office floor? When I worked in the phone company, we had one big printer for an entire floor. If you needed to print anything, you had to press the print button and run to the printer before someone else took your printout. A smaller, slower printer for each employee would reduce unnecessary movement. 

Employee Creativity 
There's a lot of bright ideas about how to make the office more effective and efficient. Are you listening to them? 

Lean your office workspace. You'll be faster, better and cheaper. Isn't that what everyone wants: to do more with less?

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Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537, support@qimacros.com."

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