Make your job easier by eliminating waste

November 3, 2015 By    

A woman approached a stock boy in the produce section of a grocery store one day and asked for a half of a head of lettuce. He tried to explain that it would be wasteful to only use half, but she insisted. He told her he would have to ask his manager. He then walked into the back room but didn’t notice her following right behind him. He started complaining to his manager, “Some ole’ lady out there wants to buy a half of a head of lettuce,” and, suddenly, noticing the woman behind him, added, “and this nice lady here would like the other half.”

Eliminating waste in a business requires the effort of everyone on your team. Paul Akers, author of “2 Second Lean,” directs his associates to look for what bugs them (waste), fix it, and take a before-and-after video with their smartphones to share at their morning meetings. Most of us consider it necessary and honorable to fight through things, like the man who refused to take time to sharpen his saw and continued to work with a dull blade. Our job actually becomes easier by eliminating waste, and everyone can spend at least two seconds every day doing this.

For example, say we purchase more copy paper than we need because it was on sale. We have to find a place to store it and, after time, forget where we placed it. When it’s needed, we can’t find it, so we buy more. Waste costs money. Everyone on your team can be involved with the solution.

At his retirement party, a man thanked his co-workers for a great 30 years. After thanking the management team, he held out his hands and said, “You know, you paid me well for the use of these,” and then he pointed to his temple and said, “But you could have had this for nothing and never asked.”

Give everyone in your organization authority to fix what bugs them (waste). It may surprise you how creative they can be.

Ken Albrecht is president of Reliable Propane in Clarence Center, N.Y. Visit

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