I have worked in many organizations implementing LEAN. Invariably the first perception of staff and some managers is that LEAN is extra work, adding to an already too busy a day. Organizations need to be positioned to accept and embrace a culture change from the old way of doing things to a new and better way focused on serving the customer better. LEAN looks for ways to streamline and simplify processes eliminating wasted time and effort.
I was dining at my favourite restaurant recently when it struck me that the application of LEAN process was exactly what the chef and owner had done. The restaurant is located in a small community 120 KM from Winnipeg, in a small village on a highway that’s a main entry into a provincial park.
He was operating a very busy restaurant. Imagine the complexity of that operation. First he needed a building, with a pleasant dining area for his customers. He needed a kitchen area with a lot of prep space. He needed to store food supplies. He needed a place to wash and store not only the cooking utensils but also such supplies as plates, cutlery, cups, saucers, glasses napkins and all the sundry supplies needed to operate a restaurant. He needed a counter for his cash register and a wine cellar for his wines and alcoholic beverages. The operation of the restaurant was a complex coordination of numerous tasks and people all centred around he chef.
The restaurant was a huge success. Great food, great prices great atmosphere. The problem from my perspective was they weren’t open enough. I can understand shutting down in the winter when traffic to the park drops dramatically, but not in the summer months. We would call to see of they were open, only to get a recording that they were closed.
Two years ago my wife bumped into the chef while shopping at the local grocery store. She asked him if they would be open in the summer. He told her he didn’t know. His biggest problem was that he needed eleven staff to keep the restaurant running and he couldn’t hire enough staff.
What was he to do?