wordle-leanBefore there was LLAMA (lot like Agile management approach), there was Agile. And before there was Agile, there was Lean. Each approach owes some of its principles to the one before. (Hmm. Sounds awfully iterative, doesn’t it?) You’ve probably heard of Lean because it’s a term that gets used a lot, sometimes accurately and sometimes, well, not so much. Lean started in the manufacturing world as part of the total-quality-management movement. It’s based on Japanese manufacturing processes and its goal is to eliminate waste from production systems. “Waste” is anything that doesn’t add value to the customer.

There are eight wastes of Lean, one of which is the waste of motion. Creating elearning isn’t often associated with a lot of motion. Isn’t it just a bunch of people sitting in front of desks all day? Yes it is (sort of – see below), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t motion waste. Here are some ways we’re reducing motion that doesn’t add value to the customer.

  1. Sitting in “pods”: We’ve always had an open floor plan to maximize our ability to get feedback and insights from each other easily. Recently we improved our plan by grouping instructional designers in one pod and course builders and graphic designers in another. Now when a less experienced team member has a question their mentor is just a chair swivel away.
  2. Instant messaging: An open floor plan means that group conversations can sometimes be disruptive to those who are hard at work on unrelated projects. But calling an entire team meeting just for a quick question would be wasteful and having one person make a unilateral decision without knowing all the information could also be wasteful. What’s a team to do? Turn to Hipchat. Create a “room” in the “lobby” and invite all team members to join in. No one has to leave their desks to go to a meeting and information is quickly gathered, decided upon, and disseminated. No waste!
  3. Move around: What? Isn’t this about eliminating motion? Actually, it’s about eliminating motion that doesn’t add value. Team members who sit in front of their screens for hours on end with numb bums lose creativity and focus which can lead to waste. We have stand-up desks for those who think better on their feet. We also situated our pods as far as possible from the kitchen and the restrooms so we’re forced to get in a little walk now and then.

Have more ideas? We’d love to hear them! Share this blog and comment on it with your own methods to reduce the waste of motion.