I write this post with a lot of new beginnings. Writing this is a first because I’ve never blogged or even cared to share my information other than the circles of trusted advisers who listen or Soldiers that I feel want to hear, and my poor wife who has to listen to my ups and downs as I go from Ah Ha excitement to expletive setback. Nonetheless I carry on and never let my mind idle, which most veterans who lie awake can relate.
I on the other hand am not new, I am 40 years old and have been in the Army almost 17 years. I am a Warrant Officer and transitioned from Enlisted to Warrant in 2007, so I’ve been at this for a little bit. By “this” I mean the Army and not lean.
I just moved (7th time in the Army) from the North East to the South East, a Permanent Change of Station or PCS as green suitors call it. While at my last assignment I was lucky enough to be introduced to quite literally the smartest and wisest person I’ve ever met (will dime him out in a later blog for sure). Among many things I learn from him, Lean Principles has got to be the most exciting and also personally intriguing . So this year, 2018 I began my discovery of what it is he was talking about using Japanese terms, talking about Toyota and GM, removing waste and seeing the obvious counter effects to problems. I’ve got audio books downloaded and my favorite, the never out of style paperback and hardback in my hand, on my night stand, in my office and in my backpack. Please see my reading list in the site contents that I will continually update throughout my journey.
The three most prominent terms that resonate in my head since first hearing about this powerful philosophy are muda, kaizen and gemba. Not only do they just sound cool but in my opinion they are the pillars of lean transformations. Now back to me moving, today is only my fourth day on the job but so far I’ve walked the gemba and noticed quite a lot of muda that can be eliminated with kaizen. Walking the gemba is not a complete journey because due to the environment I am in I have to often wait (muda) for an opportunity to walk. And as practitioners we know that walking the gemba is something that should never end but be your number one tool for a lifelong learning expedition to improvement.
I feel that I have a few people already familiar with the concepts and are willing to be teammates in this process. Everyone else around will need to be gradually introduced and mentored, such as I was, to the obvious life changing thinking of lean. I began planting small seeds and will continue to water and farm so we can all learn, understand and practice a technique and set of principles that I know the Army cannot do without.