January 6, 2013

Lean Business: Voice of the Customer

"House of Lean Production" by Pascal Dennis
Have you heard me babble on about Lean yet?

Lean thinkers seek to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. More value from fewer resources = profit! success! awesomeness!

Over the last six months, I've been studying this methodology and reading as many books as I can to see how this framework–which was born in the manufacturing context of Toyota Motors–can apply in my current work. 

One important concept that immediately comes out in Lean thinking is the voice of the customer. No matter what our role is on a team, we are producers, and we all have customers that rely on the output of what we do:
  • Reports
  • Written articles
  • Lines of code checked
  • Calls made
  • Decisions made

Do we pay attention to what that customer needs? Could we serve that customer better? 

Take a few minutes and think about 1) who your customer is in your work, and 2) which producers you are a customer for. Ask your customers directly this week if there is a way your work output could be modified to make their work easier. Give a note directly to your producers, letting them know that their product could be even more valuable if it was delivered in a different way or time.