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  • Writer's pictureBill Greider

Stop and Smell the........Sunflowers?

A few months back I wrote a post that talked about taking the time to be present and in the here and now, by simply stopping and smelling the tulips. If you recall, I had planted the tulip bulbs late one night last fall, and I completely forgot I did it. As the world was shutting down due to the pandemic, I found myself making special trips to that side of my house just to look at those babies and smile.

Those who know me realize I love the analogy of your continuous improvement/A3 process being thought of as the community garden. I usually make reference to my vegetable garden because a good garden requires really good heijunka (load leveling). If I get out there every morning after my workout for 15 minutes or so, I can weed standing up with a hoe. If I fail to do my standard work, I could find myself pulling weeds on my hands and knees. Same goes for our lean journey. If you work at it daily, and everyone pitches in, work turns into play. How can we get everyone spending 15-20 minutes working in the community garden (continuous improvement) every day? If there are 100 employees, this ends up being 10000 hours or more of people working ON your business vs. simply IN it.

Well the same idea works for my flower beds. Spend 5-10 minutes in one flowerbed each day-weeding, fertilizing, dead heading or watering, and like magic, tulips in the fall turn into sunflowers in the summer. True story. I planted the sunflowers last spring (2019). The seeds from last years sunflowers found their way into the soil and surprised me again!!!

One thing I've learned over the years is that once you can convince people that working in the lean community garden regularly, like church, you can sit back and marvel at where people take it. In the companies I currently work in, each have learned to constantly, steadily DO improvements (the seeds), have made LEAN part of their work (not something we do only when we have time (heijunka)), added huge doses of respect for people (the fertilizer), and have built a garden we can collectively look at and smile and prosper from.

People will make your garden their own. Every lean garden I have had the pleasure of working in (my clients) has been way different than my own at Duraflex. People will never fail to surprise you with their creativity, problem solving ability and genius, especially if they are in the garden every day!.

Trust me....they will surprise my sunflowers.

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