2 Second Lean: How to Make Your People and Your Business Better Every Day

I summarize some of the key concepts from the excellent book: 2 Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Fun Lean Culture. Written by Paul Akers, 2 Second Lean is a quick and easy ready that will help all of us simplify and lean out our companies, whether they are manufacturing, technology, distribution or services company.

I recommend that you read it.


What is Lean?

Two foundational principles of Lean Thinking

  • Eliminate waste
  • Continuous improvement

“Waste is like gravity; it pulls at you 24/7 and if don’t have a method to overcome it, you will lose and waste will win.” Jeff Kaas

“Lean is hard work that makes everything else easy.” Paul Akers

Why Lean?

The purpose of a company is to improve the quality of the customer’s life.

The purpose of a company is to deliver value at a very high level to the customer.

The purpose of a company is to strip away the non-value-added activity and deliver more value consistently day after day, month after month, year after year.


One Piece Flow

One piece flow is counter-intuitive in our world of “if something is good, more is better.”

  • Move away from batch production
  • Simplifies and makes obvious production bottlenecks and waste
  • Ensure that quality issues are caught immediately

There are Eight Types of Waste

  1. Overproduction
  2. Overprocessing
  3. Excess inventory
  4. Defects
  5. Transportation
  6. Wasted motion
  7. Waiting time
  8. Unused employee genius – the greatest waste

Lean is about eliminating waste and about continuous improvement, by approaching everything with an eye towards making things simpler.  Find waste in a process by thinking about what bugs you.

Lean is a Culture

“Our number one concern is how to build our people and how to build a culture of continuous improvement.” Toyota Vice President

To make the culture change permanent requires changing the habits of the team.  At its core, lean is really about the process of growing people.

Great Housekeeping is Critical to Lean

You cannot be lean if you are not first clean.

  • The Traditional approach is 5S
    o Sort
    o Straighten
    o Shine
    o Standardize
    o Sustain
  • Simplify these into 3S
    o Sweep
    o Sort
    o Standardize


Lean is About Simplicity

  • What things have you been over-complicating?
  • What are the top three things you need to simplify for your team to succeed?

2 Second Lean

  • Set a goal to cut waste for every activity by 50%. Cut waste in half.
    • Then ask each person for one 2 second improvement a day (each and every day)
    • The best place to start is with what bugs you.
  • For Akers, this is far superior and easier than kaizen events that others do
  • “We are at war with waste.” Karl Wadensten
  • A lean culture is a free culture where people are trusted to express themselves and be creative.
  • Make videos of lean improvements (iPhone with editing software works wonders)
  • Look for the 2 second improvements that don’t cost a lot of money
    • Money suffocates creativity.


Humble Lean

  • Lean leaders must respect their people and recognize that each person brings their own unique genius to the table
  • Politics is the 9th waste and it’s a big one that is mostly ego driven


Paul’s Three Pillars of Lean

  • Teach your people to see waste
  • Continuously improve everything, everybody, every day
  • Make “before and after” videos of all your improvements


Other Ideas from 2 Second Lean

  • For each person, focus on yourself. Focus on eliminating your waste. We all have enough waste for ten lifetimes.
  • “90% of what you and I do every day is waste.” Paul Akers
  • Can’t find something to improve. Simply fix what bugs you. Fix everything you struggle with. Anything that is not flowing is an easy opportunity to improve.
  • Look for the largest constraint. The bottleneck – the biggest backup of work in a particular process – is the best place to see and eliminate waste.
  • Eliminate and simplify processes by asking:
    • “Is the activity that I’m doing delivering value to the customer – or is it just a process that’s been added on?
    • Am I trying to eliminate waste even though the process is delivering no value?”
  • Never look for the complex solution to solve a problem. Always pursue the simple and elegant one.
  • The goal is for everything to be struggle-free – or to have zero struggle in every activity.
  • Akers believes that Kaizen events are essentially the batch work application of Lean principles. They do not introduce flow to the shop floor; they are by nature disruptive.
  • The 2 Second Lean approach is successful because it just asks for small improvements on a daily basis at a prescribed time. In doing that, you introduce flow to improvements.


Summary – Keys to 2 Second Lean

  • 3 S-ing – Sweep, sort, standardize
  • 2 Second Improvements
  • A morning meeting
  • Before and after videos

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Improve / Turnaround, Perform / Execution, Team / People and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 2 Second Lean: How to Make Your People and Your Business Better Every Day

  1. Pingback: 10 Fundamentals of Continuous Improvement | David M. Shedd – Move Your Company Forward

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