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
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Negotiation – An Overview

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The 5 Fundamentals of an Innovative Company

picture1The world and the customer are changing rapidly.   To keep up with these changes and to truly differentiate themselves in the marketplace, companies need to innovate.

Yet, too many companies still rely on small updates, upgrades, or makeovers of their product lines as their “innovation.”  That is just not good enough.

“We live in a world where the returns on incrementalism are going down and the returns on real innovation are going up.”  Gary Hamel (Strategy Consultant)

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Getting It Done: Achieving Twice as Much in Half the Time

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5 Steps to Creating a Unique Strategic Vision

tempToday, companies struggle to consistently increase sales and profits faster than the overall market.

In too many cases, these companies lack a unique strategic vision that would differentiate the company and its products and services from the competition.

Instead, their strategic vision is to do more – sell more products in more markets to more customers – and execute better than anyone else.

Strategy guru Michael Porter refers to this as the “Be the Best” Mindset.  This mindset generally leads to a zero sum competition where everybody is going after the same customers with the same undifferentiated products; but, at lower prices.  With this approach, everyone loses except the customer who now gets the same products and services at those lower prices.

To develop a true strategic vision, our companies must find a way to be unique.

  • How can we differentiate ourselves by meeting the different needs of our targeted customers in a way that is clearly superior to our competitors?

Below, I list five steps that all our companies should take to create that unique strategic vision.

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Three ‘Cheats’ of the Ethical Leader

tempAn ethical leader is someone dedicated to always doing the right thing for the employees, the business, and all stakeholders.  Alas, this ideal for the selfless and driven leader clashes with the reality of who most of us really are.

So, how do we, as flawed human beings, become the near perfect ethical leaders that we need to be to drive our businesses to success?

The answer is simple… we cheat.

We create sneaky tips, tricks, reminders or work arounds that help us to live up to the ideal of the ethical leader.   By following each of the three “cheats” below, we can all become more effective and more ethical leaders for our teams and in our businesses.

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We Need to Create Time For Our Teams

tempMany of us aspire to personally be as productive and effective as possible.  We read articles and blogs (including some of mine – How to Be 10X More Effective…) and take classes to learn how to get more done in less time.

Unfortunately, as leaders, this goal of personal productivity is the wrong goal to pursue.  Our goal needs to be:

How Can Our Overall Team Be More Productive and More Effective?

In helping make our teams more effective, we need to give them more time to do their jobs.  This means eliminating as much as possible all the distractions, noise, irrelevancies, and trivialities that cloud the mind and waste the time of our team members.

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