Mmmmm Lean tastes Gooood

I was talking to one of my friends Chris who highlighted to me that he had recently seen something quite interesting on a popular programme called The Great British Bake Off. He was on about one of the contestants who worked in a way for NASA.

👆👆meet Rob a Great British Bake off contestant who applies his scientific methods and technical precision to his cooking to achieve flawless results.

Anyway I got round to watching it this morning, rob actually is a Space Satellite Designer( some people have all the cool jobs) which supply to NASA. Now NASA are famous for Lean Thinking and Six sigma thinking . NASA and most of the companies it employs use these methods within their work. It was really interesting to watch when everyone started baking and just went straight into it rushing around all over and seemingly running out of time rapidly. A lot of them made what looked like good products(cakes) but once tasted there were flaws all over and were being told they missed what the judges were after(the customer)

However not our Rob the judges looked perplexed when he didn’t seem in their eyes to have a sense of urgency about him from the off.

He mapped his whole system out, physically putting his utensils, bowls and other cooking products where he needed them for when he needed them to reduce waste.
He also in his actions seemed to apply a lot of the following:

There are FIVE overriding principles to Lean.


1.Identify Customers and Specify Value – The starting point is to recognise that only a small fraction of the total time and effort in any organisation actually adds value for the end customer. By clearly defining Value for a specific product or service from the end customer’s perspective, all the non value activities – or waste – can be targeted for removal.

2.Identify and Map the Value Stream – The Value Stream is the entire set of activities across all parts of the organisation involved in jointly delivering the product or service. This represents the end-to-end process that delivers the value to the customer. Once you understand what your customer wants the next step is to identify how you are delivering (or not) that to them.

3. Create Flow by Eliminating Waste – Typically when you first map the Value Stream you will find that only 5% of activities add value, this can rise to 45% in a service environment. Eliminating this waste ensures that your product or service “flows” to the customer without any interruption, detour or waiting.

4.Respond to Customer Pull – This is about understanding the customer demand on your service and then creating your process to respond to this. Such that you produce only what the customer wants when the customer wants it.

5.Pursue Perfection – Creating flow and pull starts with radically reorganising individual process steps, but the gains become truly significant as all the steps link together. As this happens more and more layers of waste become visible and the process continues towards the theoretical end point of perfection, where every asset and every action adds value for the end customer.
In following these five principles of Lean you will implement a philosophy that will become “just the way things are done”. You are ensuring that you are driving towards the overall organisational strategy by constant review of your processes to ensure that they are constantly and consistently delivering value to your customer. This allows the organisation to maintain its high level of service whilst being able to grow and flex with a changing environment and it does this through implementing sustainable change.

So Rob won the first week and gained the title ‘star baker’ for his lemon drizzle cake. Comments back were you really understood what we asked from you your cake is flawless and what you have put into this and how you have applied yourself is brilliant.

So next time someone at your work place doubts systems thinking, purpose, lean six sigma or whatever, just shove a piece of cake made using rob’s thinking in their face and say: “does that taste good” the reply will be yes. Well lean made that ha.

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