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Outsourcing Team Building: Community Service with a Lean Twist

Post Author Bill Wolfe
Jun 23, 2015 4:26:05 PM
Workforce Insights
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In my last blog, I mentioned that an outsourcing approach would include a “plant within a plant.”  Like any other organization, a successful outsourcing team needs to do some team building periodically.  Recently, I was invited to participate with a team building effort and it was definitely a win/win.  We were able to do some volunteer work, while including some lean learning into the same event. 

Earlier this year an outsourcing team volunteered to cook a meal at “Habitat for Humanity.”  It worked like this: employees arrived early in the morning so their chef and staff could coach the team in cooking and serving the meal.  During the meal preparation there was a lot of teamwork and good natured ribbing about who could cut carrots better, who is the next chef in waiting, etc.  It was a great way to spend the morning for an even greater cause.   

As it turns out it was a very cold winter day and our team was ready to begin serving the meal.  We were instructed on how to serve and hand out the meals to each person that came in the door.   Also, we were told that we needed to place ten plates in front of us and then another ten plates on an additional rack near the food.  This was the way that they had always done it.  Now here is where the lean learning came in to play.  We rapidly put 20 plates out and then stood there waiting for people to file through the door to get their “hot” meal.  But how hot was it going to be if it was sitting there for a long period of time?   This really felt like a push system and a recipe for waste at the end of the day.  When a leader said let’s create a lean approach to our serving process, we were all in.  We decided to create a small “stores” of trays.  We followed the Ohno pull philosophy.  We would have no less than two trays, and no more than four trays, at any one time.  The experts would have added some type of Kanban card but since the trays were right in front of us the immediate signal was when we got down to two we needed to move!  This took a lot of patience and some practice before we had it down to an almost exact science.  It was a real life tutorial in following a pull system and we pulled it off without a hitch.  Also, because we closely monitored the inventory we did not have any remaining food at the end.  All in all a day well spent in giving back to the community and using our lean tools at the same time.

Stay tuned for the next post, which will focus on effective Outsourcing gembas.

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