Why Christmas isn’t a Lean holiday
You’re probably thinking I’m talking about all that rich food we devour over the Christmas holidays and how we need to keep an eye on our weight. But that’s not what I mean at all. What I’m talking about is what has mesmerized production industry in recent years, ever since Toyota pulled that legendary cord.
It’s easy to be inspired. There must be other areas besides production where Lean can be applied. Why not our Christmas festivities?
Let’s start with stockpiling. We Lean people don’t like keeping things in stock and we also want good turnover. Bringing out Christmas decorations once a year to use for a few days and then putting them back on the shelf for 11 months until it’s time again just doesn’t fly. In true Lean spirit, I went around to several of my neighbors to try to get their support in putting together a single Christmas kit we all could share. We’d also be doing a good deed for the environment, not to mention sustainability. Oddly enough, they all insisted on holding on to their traditional ways of celebrating Christmas and no one was willing to compromise. I suddenly realized that my neighbors are a major part of our global climate problems.
We Lean people like pull flows, so when the family started talking about a Christmas tree way back at the beginning of December, I naturally felt compelled to perform a thorough analysis of the actual need. I soon saw they hadn’t even planned on decorating the tree until the day before Christmas Eve. It would just be standing there, unnecessarily taking up space for several weeks, awaiting the 23rd. “Entirely unacceptable” was my verdict and I waited until the morning of the 23rd to purchase a tree. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not a single Christmas tree merchant was still open nor a tree to be had in all of western Sweden. Every living soul had obviously procured a tree well before Christmas Eve. What a waste of resources… it makes me sick just thinking about it.
Christmas presents are another well-known problem. All over the planet, people are running around, crowding in stores, all to buy a things that they’re going to give away to other people who don’t really want them. These unwanted gifts will either just sit there gathering dust (storage problem) or returned to stores (rejects). The only alternative is to eliminate the process entirely. As far as I can see, it’s beyond saving.
On the bright side though, the process for baking gingerbread cookies and Lucia saffron buns has plenty of room for improvement. Admittedly though, it will require a certain amount of change to the kitchen to eliminate the many and long distances between the various stations, and that unnecessary equipment be disposed of that serves no useful purpose. Fortunately, IKEA hardly ever closes and you can accomplish quite a lot with just a saw, hammer and a box of nails. True, it might be a bit tricky to move around as freely in the kitchen as before, but who wants to see hordes of people wandering about with no obvious purpose?
Despite my assiduous work with improvements, I noted rising resistance from my loved ones in the days leading up to Christmas, which was hard to understand. Didn’t they see how much better everything was going to be?
As it turned out, I ended up having to work a good part of the Christmas holidays. It felt terrible, letting the family down like that, but life’s surprises never cease. They were neither upset nor disappointed. Actually, they seemed almost relieved!
Merry Xmas & Happy New Year,
The Bald guy