Lean Gardening – Don’t Spoil the Harvest

Part III of a IV Part series on gardening and some connections to lean. Let’s get dirty and bring in the harvest!

Nothing beats bringing in the harvest.  All the hard, sweaty work.  Tilling the ground, planting the seeds, watering and weeding.  More weeding.  Satisfaction and reward comes at harvest time.

Depending on what type of gardener you are, harvest time can be very different.  In my opinion, there are 3 types of gardeners:

  • amateurs: those who plan for a single harvest
  • pros: those who plan for a continuous harvest
  • semi-pros: those somewhere in between

Of course, there’s lots of variety in each of the ranks and success at harvest time is just as varied.  For the most part though, the bounty of the harvest directly correlates with our approach and determination to successful gardening.

Here’s some of the differences between an amateur gardener and a pro:

  • Site preparation – amateurs pick a garden spot and focus on giving just enough effort for this year.  Pros carefully consider location, sun exposure and soil condition.  Then, they re-check location.
  • Maintenance / upkeep – amateurs pick weeds…sometimes.  Depends on their mood and given circumstances.  Pros pick a better location…so they don’t have to weed as much.  They maintain the garden at a consistent pace, no matter the conditions or circumstances.
  • Harvest time – amateurs get all their produce at the end of the year.  Pros enjoy the fruits of their labor all year round.

Implementing lean in an organization is a lot like growing a garden.  The familiar saying holds true, you usually get ‘out’ what you decide to put ‘in’.  How much have we decided to put into our lean efforts?  Are we practicing amateur lean or pro lean implementation?

Here’s some benefits to deciding to implement lean as a pro:

  1. Streamlined work flows – planning long-term forces you to consider circumstances beyond tomorrow.  Sustained efforts lead to leveling of workloads, less waste, and consistently happy customers.  More asparagus for everyone!
  2. Better teamwork – long-term lean efforts allow you to learn from your mistakes and improve your processes and systems.  Let’s plant less asparagus…and grow money trees.
  3. Employee engagement – knowing that the organization is committed to more than just ‘this year’s plan’ enables folks to jump in and ask “how can I help?”  Sure!…I’ll help water the money trees.
  4. Consistent success – yes, you still go through the ups and downs…but you do it together, with the team.  Reaping consistent lean rewards with the team helps get you through the tough times.  Everyone starts looking at the rainy days a little differently.

Implementing lean as a pro helps spread out the harvest.  Making connections between lean efforts (kaizen, standard work, etc.) and team success is easier when we Plan, Do, Check and Act in small steps over and over…rather than attempt a one-and-done strategy.

It’s not about unveiling the latest lean ‘tool’ in an attempt to keep everyone busy until things get better.  It’s about deciding to want to make things better.  Not just for this year…but every year.

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About Steve Martin - theThinkShack

Hey there...I'm Steve. I built theThinkShack...a virtual hideaway about Lean Thinking and how it Connects to Everyday Life.
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One Response to Lean Gardening – Don’t Spoil the Harvest

  1. Matt Wrye says:

    What I read in was a big difference between amateurs and pros was the difference between being reactive and proactive. The pros are PROactive and thinking ahead. Pro gardeners will stagger the plantings to get lettuce all year and not just at once or plant a spring, then summer and then fall crop. Pro lean thinkers will have a longer term vision and take the steps necessary year after year to get there. They are not trying to react to what is happening now but setting a course for the future.

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