Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tales from the family kaizen archives...

Anyone, whether they are young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated can do lean and kaizen. I just wanted to share a kaizen story my father told me over the weekend. 

My Grandpa Lafever was a young man from Tennessee with an 8th grade education. Life for him was tough growing up and even his childhood home is now underwater courtesy of the TVA.  Deciding that Indiana held opportunity, he came to the state looking for a new start.  His agricultural career began as he worked for another farmer in Wayne County Indiana.  Over time he grew more successful, became a well known farmer in the community, bought his own land, paid everything off, and had a prosperous operation with both his sons graduating from Purdue University.
Grandpa had a two row seed planter but he couldn't compete with other farmers with 4 and 6 row planters. Money was tight and Grandpa always looked for another way to do things.  His kaizen was to figure out how to improve the planting speed increasing the seed flow of the two row planter. He tinkered with the gears and the machine itself and improved it so it could plant at 12 mph instead of the normal 4 mph of a average seed planter. He also determined the optimal way of driving the tractor so the planter could operate with the same quality and results at the higher speed. His improvement didn't cost hardly anything and he could outperform a 4 row planter and match the 6 row planter performance without the expense of precious capital for new farm implements. His improvement lasted several years saving him time and money and giving me a great story to share today.
Grandpa didn't know any Japanese or had any Lean training-he just always looked for another way to do things.  It's that simple and America used to think more this way.  It's time to bring these skills and improvement thinking back to the USA instead of the pervasive bailout mindset and nanny state.  Let's empower ourselves to improve our homes, our jobs, our fun, and our families.  As I have stated before...if dogs, kids, and middle school graduates can "kaizeneer" and make things better, why can't everyone?
What have you improved today?
Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

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