Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 52 - LEAN Out Your Kitchen

LEAN the Coffee Making Process
My Director at my last job was a big supporter of the LEAN process.  It is a process whereby you find the value of something, identify the steps it takes to process this value and then eliminate wherever possible the steps that aren't necessary to produce the value.  This then becomes a tight process and after receiving feedback find more ways to LEAN out the process.  This is a process that can work in our homes too.  I tried it one day when I realized that I had the coffee on one counter, the coffee maker on another counter and the sugar on another.  I moved them all to the side of the sink and created a coffee basket that holds the coffee filters, tea bags and anything else that should go in this area.  Voila!  The coffee making process had gone from a 90 second process to about thirty seconds!

I use this process for changing trash bags also.  I put the roll of trash bags in the bottom of the trash can before putting the new trash bag in and around the corners of the trash can.  This way when the trash needs taken out, you pull the full trash bag out of the can, tie the ends and then the new trash bag is right there in the bottom.  Reach in, pull out the next clean trash bag and then you're done in less than ten seconds!

 This LEAN principle was one of the first things I taught our foreign exchange students when they arrived.  For Felipe, this was literally a whole new world.  He was assigned chores and one of the daily chores was to take care of the dishes from the dishwasher, reload the dishes, and then run the dishwasher.  The first day he said, "Maam, Please don't laugh at me but can you please show me how to do this?" I had heard about South American families having maids and suspected that he probably didn't know how to do this because at home he had a maid to do this.  I asked, "Do you have a maid at home?"  He said embarrassingly, "I have two."  Boy was he a long way from home.  Not only did Felipe do dishes, he did windows, fed the birds, cleaned the bathroom, and did his own laundry.  When teaching him this he also learned the LEAN principle.

He learned the LEAN process so well that when his mother saw him again, she said, "You have changed.  You are very organized, you weren't like this when you left.  You left a boy and have returned a man!"  Who would have thought a young man with two maids was transformed into a man who did his own windows by spending a year learning responsibility and accountability?  We found out that upon his return from the airport in Brazil he was given his own car.  His response to me was that it was just OK he really didn't like it.  We had told him to prepare for this.  We also told him that his room would be different and completely changed as he was gone a year.  He confirmed this once he returned as well.

I suspect that now that he has returned to Brazil that he will return to his old ways of allowing his maids to do his work.  He has made it into college and I'm sure his family has provided a maid for him in his new apartment.  I do not know for sure.  The truth is, that after an entire year of dedication to change a young man and to help him learn about America and its values of accountability, respect and hard work, that he has chosen not to speak to me for eight months.  Jula and her family and our family talk monthly via Skype.  Her family and ours exchanged Christmas gifts and will continue to do so for many years to come. Jula and Felipe became our family and it is really hard to understand why Felipe and his family have completely cut off communication particularly since we were host to not only Felipe but welcomed his mother into our home as well.

Our home uses the LEAN process that is a process that eliminates waste of time.  Just as I taught Felipe about LEAN, I'm relearning it in regards to this lack of contact from him.  The truth is it hurts.  But I'm eliminating the waste, LEANing out the process of worrying about it. The right thing to do is to realize that it is not my issue it is his and his families.

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