We talk about limiting the amount of Work In Process (WIP) inventory, especially inventory at the point of use. Here's an example which helped bring that home for me.
Mick is a friend and pays attention to Lean principles. He described to me his method of keeping his file drawers both organized and under control.
It seems he has about a drawer and a half which he can use in his cubicle for filing. Company policy prohibits additional storage space in the cube. While some whine about it, Mick adapted to it. His system is simple:
- All his files are labeled and placed alphabetically. So, the file for "Kaizen Events" comes just ahead of the file for "Logistic Planning". He does not try to put subjects together, unless he names them as such (so, he told me, "Vendors-Critical" would be next to "Vendors-Potential")
- He creates new files as needed, such as when a new project comes up or a large file needs to be subdivided
- When he creates a new file, he removes an old file. He usually shreds or recycles the old file. Thus, he never takes up more space in the file drawers. And never needs to add space. Knowing him, I suspect his cube is neater than others as well.
"What about the old files?" I asked. "Don't you lose that stuff you pitch?"
"Ha!" said Mick, anticipating my question. He described for me, at some length, how inevitably he'll find a file in the general alphabetical neighborhood of his new file which is irrelevant, old, or otherwise serving no purpose. "It feels good to pitch the content and recycle the file folder."
And he limits inventory in a very simple way.
Helped me...hope hit helps you as well.