Let the coffee stir the cream

powerphrase_icon2I’m back from my second big lean event – Shingoprize in Cincinnati. The short and mundane definition of lean is it’s about eliminating waste. I listen carefully for ways to talk about lean that are less mundane and that bring lean to life. Too many people think it means layoffs and treating employees like objects. It’s the opposite. 

But I got my favorite phrase to explain it from the conference I attendeed after Shingoprize. It was a professional speakers’ summit, and Kelli Vrla was there. She mentioned how her dear Uncle Johnny pours the cream in before the coffee. Why? So he can, 

  • Let the coffee stir the cream.

What a great phrase to describe more efficient ways of doing things, and what a great way to describe how lean optimizes performance. It will be a buzz word for me and my associates! 

How to make toast efficientlyWhat works so well about it is it is highly visual and very familiar. I can picture Kelli’s Uncle Johnny pour his coffee. I can picture him share his wisdom. I can picture the coffee stirring the cream. Can you? I already try to remember to do it that way to save the step of getting a spoon and stirring. So I relate to the image personally. Do you? From that image I can easily extrapolate into how simple life might be if I “leaned-out” other aspects of my daily operations. 

Tonight my husband and I have a date to watch “Toast Kaizen”. I’m sure it will change how we make toast, how I talk about lean, and how I observe and eliminate waste in my own life.  

What phrases do you have that illustrate a better way of doing things? Those phrases are gold. Thanks Kelli – and thanks to Uncle Johnny as well. 

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