Applying 5S's of LEAN to Your Processes w/ Paul Critchley

WBSP040: Grow Your Business by Applying 5S’s of LEAN to Your Processes w/ Paul Critchley

In this episode, we have our guest Paul Critchley from New England Lean Consulting, who discusses practical examples of how to apply the 5S LEAN principles to your organization. He also shares his insights into how the needs for LEAN differ in high-volume organizations such as Automobile from job shops. Finally, he clears some of the misconceptions around LEAN and how applying LEAN principles can grow your organization’s faster growth.

Chapter Markers

  • [0:28] Intro
  • [3:15] Personal journey and current focus
  • [4:49] Perspective on growth
  • [6:19] How to grow by being LEAN?
  • [14:42] How do LEAN practices differ in aerospace from the automobile?
  • [18:35] 5S LEAN principles
  • [24:25] The implications of not following 5S lean principles
  • [29:07] Closing thoughts
  • [35:45] Outro

Key Takeaways

  • 5Ss is a LEAN tool. And it’s five words that start with S, and the English versions are sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain, and it’s kind of a step-by-step method.
  • LEAN is all about just trying to talk to the people on the floor. The people who do the work know the best. They are the experts. It’s up to us leaders, CEOs, lean practitioners to ask the right questions. And the biggest one is, why do you do it that way? And if you get the answer, well, that’s the way I’ve always done it. That’s a big clue that there’s something there that there’s some waste in there that you could probably figure out.

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About Paul

Paul Critchley is a recognized thought leader on employee engagement and continuous improvement and has helped businesses around the world achieve greater levels of success through the application of Lean techniques. A frequent speaker, he has keynoted at numerous corporate events, as well as at international conventions such as AME’s annual Lean conference and at OpEx Week. He’s also the host of “The New England Lean Podcast”, a weekly show that features management thought leaders, TED speakers, world-renowned authors, and university professors. Paul is also a regular writer and contributor to publications such as Industry Week and Quality Magazines.

Paul is a former Board Member of the Northeast Region of AME, holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Management, and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership. He is a proud supporter of CT’s “Skill up for Manufacturing” program.

He co-authored his first book – The Whole Professional, A Collection of Essays to Help You Achieve a Full and Satisfying Life to bring a fresh perspective on Work/Life Balance and how individuals and organizations can work together to achieve greater levels of attainment.


Full Transcript

Paul Critchley 0:00

Look at all of the labor, and how much do these guys make an hour? Right? It’s 20-30 bucks. So it’s really easy sometimes to get people’s attention because they just don’t realize it. If you walk out on the shop floor, and you just see people being busy, they’re moving machines or running their spindles or cutting chips. So the belief is that we’re making money. Well, you are but are you making it as fast as you need to? Are you operating as efficiently as you could be?

Intro 0:28

Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies. So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority. Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.

Sam Gupta 1:05

Hey, everyone, welcome back to another episode of The WBS podcast. I’m your host and principal consultant at a digital transformation consulting firm ElevatIQ.

How busy is your shop floor? How occupied is your team? Is your machine always running? Are you happy with your growth and operational efficiency? When might you be content with what you have right now? The question is, why would you not make more money if you could without increased efforts or resources?

In today’s episode, we have our guest Paul Critchley from New England Lean Consulting, who discusses practical examples of how to apply 5S lean to your organization. He also shares his insights into how the needs for lean differ in high-volume organizations such as automobiles to job shops. Finally, he shares some of the misconceptions around lean and how applying Lean principles can help your organization grow faster. Let me introduce Paul to you.

Sam Gupta 1:59

Paul Chrisley is a recognized thought leader on employee engagement and continuous improvement and has helped businesses around the world achieve a greater level of success through the application of lean techniques. A frequent speaker, he has keynoted at numerous corporate events, as well as at international conventions such as Amy’s annual lean conference and at OPEX week. He’s also the host of the New England Lean podcast, a weekly show that features management thought leaders, TED speakers, world-renowned authors, and university professors.

Paul is also a regular writer and contributor to publications such as industry week and quality magazines. Paul is a former board member of the North East region and holds a BS in mechanical engineering, an MS degree in management, and an MS in organizational leadership. He is a proud supporter of CDs, a scaler for the manufacturing program. He co-authored his first book, big old professional, a collection of essays to help you achieve a full and satisfying life to bring a fresh perspective on workplace violence and how individuals and organizations can work together to achieve greater levels of attainment. With that, let’s get to the conversation. Hey, Paul, welcome to the show.

Paul Critchley 3:13

Hey, Sam. Good to be here. Thank you.

Sam Gupta 3:15

Okay, amazing. And we are super excited to listen to your insight. Just to kick things off. Do you want to start with your personal story and your current focus?

Paul Critchley 3:25

So I’ll keep it brief. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering went to work for a tier-one automotive supplier. And shortly thereafter, is really where I got introduced to lean, which is no big surprise, because back then, which was what late, the late 90s. Lean was just kind of getting a lot of traction, especially in the automotive industry. So I learned a lot about it.

From there moved over. I worked in aerospace for a long, long time, where I’m physically located is just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. And between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts was known as aerospace alley, we have a lot of very large aerospace manufacturers and their sub-tier suppliers along the I91 or so that’s where I spent a lot of my career moved up through the chain, the chain of command, I guess, if you want to call it that, spent a long time as a manufacturing engineering manager, eventual plant and operations facilities manager.

So I had the honor to be able to practice lean for a long, long time. And at a certain point, I decided I wanted to go out on my own. So I did that in 2012. And I started my company, which is New England Lean Consulting. And that’s exactly what we do basically all day every day, are we help organizations practice lean and teach and consult in that in that area.

Sam Gupta 4:49

Okay, so we want to discuss a lot of that. But before we do that, we have one of the standard questions that we ask all of our guests, and that is going to be your perspective on growth. What does business growth mean to you, Paul?

Paul Critchley 5:03

Well, so my background, again, is mostly manufacturing. So I’ll answer it from that perspective. Growth is all about. I think winning, winning new business. Okay, there are always folks out there that can do it better, faster, cheaper. So the objective of the game is to try to beat them to the punch, we say to all of our clients, we all have competitors, and New England Lean does as well.

And our competitors are all out there working hard to win your business away from you. And they’re going to do that on cost, on delivery, on customer service on the lead time, all of the important KPIs. So the goal is to again beat them to the punch and be able to service your customers because in lean, speak, value is defined by the customer. And different customers would define it in different ways. , some people just buy commodities, so they’ll buy on price. Other people will buy on customer service.

So that’s a big part of what lean does for you is it allows you to grow your business in a methodical, logical way. That’s not haphazard. You kind of have to steal a Stephen-Covey-ism. You begin with the end in mind. So you kind of come up with your strategic plan, and then you come up with a plan to execute the plan.

Sam Gupta 6:19

Okay, so when I’m doing my interview, I’m always trying to connect the dots. And here I’m trying to connect the dots with respect to lean and growth. So whenever I think about any buzzwords in the market, everybody’s gonna claim that they are Super Lean. Okay. Yeah, because it sounds cool. But obviously, not everybody is. So two things. Number one, we have to connect the dots in terms of getting leaner and how to grow by being Lean. Can you touch on that?

Paul Critchley 6:51

Sure, so it is your first question, and connecting the dots, you’re spot on, Sam. Unfortunately, so the term lean got coined in 1988. And it got popularized the next year when Dan Jones and Jim Womack wrote the book called The machine that changed the world. Yeah. Now I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jim Womack and hearing him speak numerous times.

And one of the things he said recently was, and I’ll paraphrase, because I don’t want to put words into his mouth. But he basically said, looking back, I wish we’d never used the term lean because and this is something that we do in our workshops. One of the first questions I ask is when I say the word lean, what do you guys think of, and probably 95 times out of 100, people will say, well trim the fat, use fewer people and it very quickly, because the term lean has that connotation.

If you walk down the grocery store, cereal aisle, or everything’s lean this or all kinds of, and that’s what it all it’s all about, right? Getting smaller and lean in terms of Toyota Production System lean, it’s not that at all. It’s all about delivering value to the customer. And that customer can be an internal customer or an external customer.

Paul Critchley 8:08

And so we focus on what is the value that you bring. And then, we focus on taking the waste out of being able to deliver that value to the customer. When I say waste, it could be transportation, defects, all of the things that get in the way of you being able to deliver your product or service to your customer.

So when we put it in those terms, people generally kind of come along, they’re like, okay, now I understand that you guys aren’t here, you consultants aren’t here to take my work, scale back from 10 people to six, and then fire or lay off those four people. Once we get over that hurdle, it gets a little bit easier. Now, as far as your second question on how to grow, that’s literally what lean is truly all about. It’s based on Toyota Production. When Toyota developed that system, again, it was all about being able to deliver the customer what they wanted when they wanted it.

Paul Critchley 9:03

So if you think about what the automotive industry looks like, in the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, if you look at the big three, which here in America, where Ford, GM, and Chrysler, we could pump out automobiles more than anybody. But we had that old mentality of setting up the machine and just hit go and run it and run it as fast as you can and just keep pushing product out.

And I use the term pushing on purpose. Where Toyota differed was they said, that’s great because if we can do it better because we’ll make a Toyota Camry, then we’ll do a Tacoma and then we’ll do a Corolla and then we’ll go back to a Camry and we’ll change the color every single time. Whereas the big three would be like, Alright, today we’re going to run F150s. And if they’re all going to be silver, tomorrow, we’ll change over to black, and the next day, it’ll be blue, but they’re all going to be the same truck. It was that kind of different mentality. So they were able to grow and now forward to today in 2021.

Paul Critchley 10:02

And we see what we can see what the automotive market has done. And again, it’s all about being able to give the customer what they want. The old belief was, well, people will come into the car dealer lot, and you pick from the lot. And that’s it. Well, what if I go to the light, and I don’t like any of these?

Well, I have to order it. You could say it was, but you’re talking 12-16-26 weeks, sometimes way back that. And in order to order a car, we actually just did this with Toyota, we went to the law didn’t find what we wanted, we ordered a minivan for Sienna the way we wanted it. Four weeks later, we had it exactly the way we wanted it. So when I talk about Lean and growth, sometimes you will believe that lean is a cost-cutting practice strategy. It’s not the main goal.

Paul Critchley 11:00

Now, by way of eliminating waste, reducing defects, or eliminating defects, your throughput, your WIP turns are going to improve. So you will eventually realize an increase in your plant capacity. Now how you use that capacity, obviously, you’re going to want to fill it up, one of the ways you could fill it up is, hey, now that we can get stuff through twice as fast, say, we can actually go to our customers and say, hey, you know this thing, this widget that we make for you, or the service that we provide you our old lead time was six to eight weeks.

Well, now we’re three to four or two to four, or whatever it is, customers oftentimes will pay a premium for that, because nobody wants to wait. think about Amazon now, right? Amazon prime is wildly successful because you don’t have to plan ahead. You don’t have to think. You just click click click tomorrow, this thing shows up on your doorstep.

Sam Gupta 11:43

There’s a term for that. It’s called Instant gratification. And it’s very popular all of us want instant gratification, right?

Paul Critchley 11:49

Yeah, as a society. You think about it. You can just say, hey, Alexa, or Hey, Siri, or whatever. And yeah, you’re right. I want to know, what’s the weight of a blue whale? Well, it’s whatever it is 500 times I’ll make that part. But you’re right. Our society is driving us to the point where I want this right now. Why can’t I have it? Yeah, and the closer we can all get to be able to provide things right now, the more business you’re going to win. And that’s the flywheel off, the momentum that you can get once you start practicing lean and instituting some of these ideas.

Sam Gupta 12:25

Okay, so let’s talk about, and I’m, again, trying to connect the dots here, right. So obviously, you have been doing this in two different industries. And those are some of the top industries, in my opinion, when it comes to practicing lean. So you have done a lot of work in the automotive space and also in aerospace. So in these two phases, and you also talk about how values differ for everyone, also for every industry. So talk about the manufacturing processes for the automobile, as well as for the aerospace, how they differ, and what kind of values they deliver.

Paul Critchley 13:04

Sure, so it’s interesting that you asked that because they’re very different, which is always fun. I am famous for saying processes, processes process, right? If you’re making stuff, you’re making stuff. But yeah, when I think back to my time in automotive, it was very much high volume, low mix. And what I mean by that is, I can remember walking out of the plant in South Carolina, where I used to be, and we made. Specifically, I made bearings. So we made the bearing content for automatic transmissions.

And I can remember just looking out over this one, literally 1 million square feet of the plant under roof and just centerless grinders, we probably had 50 of these things, running 24 seven, and the rollers, the needle rollers that came off of them were coming off so fast, it looked like a little stream of water. And it was just it’s almost like when you watch on television, some of the shows that how it’s made or whatever, and they show you some of the insides, right of how it’s made. It was exactly like that.

Paul Critchley 14:00

And it was just volume-driven. Yeah, compared to aerospace is generally not very. It’s not a high-volume kind of a thing. Yeah. And then a lot of our clients who are in aerospace, they’ll make one or two of whatever this thing is, and then they’ll send it in to the customer.

And they’ll test this thing out. It might be a year or two before it ever comes back around. And the next time it comes around, it’ll be three revisions different because that it’s some internal thing that’s gone on at the customer. So they have to be able to be ready and nimble and agile enough to be able to change that quickly and be able to continue to serve as the customer.

Sam Gupta 14:42

Yeah. Okay, so let’s talk about Lean practices and these two industries. So in the aerospace, obviously, when I think about this, it’s going to be a completely different space where you are sending reports, and they are coming after three years.

So your raw material pricing is going to be tricky to manage there. And then You have to plan a lot more than you are doing, let’s say in the high volume shops, right? So if you were to practice lean in these two industries, how would you do it?

Paul Critchley 15:09

Sure. So I’ll just say that the principles are all the same, the tools are all the same how they get applied. I will admit that we do it a little bit differently. Every client’s going to be a little bit different. One of the rebuttals that we get sometimes is people say, especially in the aerospace, they’re like, Well, listen, we’re kind of a job shop, we might make one or two or three of these things, and we may never see them again, or it might be three or four years down the road versus this belief.

And it’s fairly accurate that in automotive, once you make something, you’re pretty much making that thing for a while until maybe there’s a design change or something down the road. But those generally don’t come, at least in my experience, all that often. So what I like to talk about when I’m dealing with, like, say, an aerospace client is saying.

Paul Critchley 15:55

Okay, I understand your high-mix, low-volume. So, in other words, again, you might make two of these, one of those four of these other things. And again, you might not ever see it again, but there are still principles within lean that you can apply that make things flow better. And I’ll give me a quick example. 5S lean is a great place to start, although I will say you don’t have to start there. But we generally do.

So, just if we quantify for a CEO or CFO, did you realize that you have ten people out on the shop floor running lathes and mills. And on average, each person spends about an hour every day looking for some tool that they need, that they don’t have, right where they need it.

And this tool is worth five bucks. But multiply that out every day. You’re losing an hour per person times how many people you have times five or six days a week. Look at all of the labor, and how much do these guys make an hour, right? It’s 20-30 bucks. So it’s really easy sometimes to get people’s attention because they just don’t realize it.

Paul Critchley 16:54

If you walk out on the shop floor, and you just see people being busy, they’re moving machines, or running their spindles or cutting chips. So the belief is that we’re making money. Well, you are but are you making it as fast as you need to? Are you operating as efficiently as you can? So when we do this kind of stuff, in a high-mix, low-volume environment, we like to work on these types of things, what I call the support mechanisms, making sure tools are where they need to be having a good visual management system, instituting daily management to make sure lines of communication are going it’s really easy, sometimes again, in that in that environment, to not communicate something that somebody would need to know.

And you get a couple of days down the line, you’re like, Oops, I forgot to tell you, we got a new print, or we got to go in from the client or, or we got another quote in we, they don’t want this revision, they want this other thing, or they asked us to split the order, or whatever it may be. It’s really easy to make those kinds of mistakes. So we standardize and apply the lean tools and principles where we can without straight-up changing everything that they do because, again, a lot of these places have been in business for a long, long time.

So it’s not like we have to blow it up and change everything right now. And that’s sometimes I think what people believe lean to be it’s like this whole extra thing. And it’s really not; it’s just about taking what you do best and allowing people in your organization to do those things more often and more hours in the day.

Sam Gupta 18:35

Okay, so you spoke about the 5S lean principles. I’m not familiar with that. So can you touch a little bit on that as well, because my audience may not be familiar with that either?

Paul Critchley 18:42

So yes, sorry. I sometimes rattle these things off because I deal with them all day. So I am sorry, Sam. So yeah, 5S lean. It’s a LEAN tool. And it’s five words that start with S, and the English versions are sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain, and it’s kind of a step-by-step method of kind of what I described. Okay, so I’ll give you a really easy example. So stand in your kitchen right now. Do you have a silverware drawer?

Sam Gupta 19:13

Um, I probably do. I never go to the kitchen, so I’m not too sure about it. Okay. You definitely don’t want to be me to be near the kitchen drawer that carries a knife.

Paul Critchley 19:31

So typically that it usually people would write, so you open up your silverware drawer, and I’ll bet that pretty much everybody who’s listening has a divider. So there’s a section for forks, a section for knives, a section for spoons. Yeah, right. And everything in there is clean and ready to go.

So you grab your yogurt for breakfast, you go to the silver jar, you need a spoon, you get a spoon. That’s basically the first three S’s right there out of 5S lean. Because, for instance, in our silverware drawer, we’re a family of four, we probably have eight forks, eight knives, eight spoons, right. So we don’t have 50 of everything. So we don’t have too much. And we don’t have too little. We don’t have one spoon to share with people. That’s part of what sort is of 5s lean.

You get rid of the stuff that you don’t need. And you can also sort in the things that you do need. Now the second S of 5s lean is set an order. That’s just like I described, where it’s divided up. Now, another question I asked in workshops is who has a junk drawer in their kitchen, and the vast majority of people will throw their hands up, and it’s alright, what’s in your junk drawer? It’s everything. It’s old batteries, pair of scissors, extra Christmas cards from last year? It’s junk. That’s all right.

Paul Critchley 20:51

How long if you need something in the junk drawer? How long does it take you to find it? And it’s not horrible. It’s not ours, but it’s not as easy as it is in the silverware drawer. That’s what set an order is. It just means everything in its place. Right? Yeah, the shine is. It’s clean. It’s operable. It’s ready to go. It’s in this example, again, you go to the silver drawer, it’s all clean, you don’t put dirty dishes back, right? That’s disgusting. It would defeat the whole purpose is, in industry, it’s all about it’s like gauges, tools, fixtures, are they where they need to be.

Are they where I need them? And when I go to the rack, or the shelf or the tool badge to get what I need, it’s going to be there. I know it’s ready to go, it’s not going to be broken, it’s not going to be out for calibration or any of that kind of stuff. It’s it’s ready. So those are the first three standardized is just like it sounds. So from work cell to work cell, you try to make things as standard, quite frankly, as the same as you can, because one of the other tenants of lean is you want a well-trained cross-functional workforce.

Paul Critchley 22:07

So if Sam, you, and I are working in two separate work cells, and I’m out one day, but they need you to cover for me, they want you to be able to come into my workspace and be able to tell what’s and whatnot. It’s one of those instances where sometimes I’ll hear from clients. Well, it’s okay because I know where everything is. And this is my space. It’s like, okay, it is your space, but only for now, what if you hit the lottery tomorrow, or what if you’re out sick or there’s got to be a way that other people can come in, get a lay of the land quickly and easily.

That’s what standardization is. Now one, Paul Critchley’s caveat to that is, I don’t prescribe to the notion that standardization means emergency room, clean hospital room kind of stuff. Sometimes I think people will misconstrue standardization to mean it absolutely. 100% has to look exactly the same, which means like an in lean office, sometimes people will struggle with this, they’ll say, Well, you can’t have pictures of your kids on the desk or I can’t have my plant anymore, I can’t have my jacket on the back of my chair. Because five, so the lean consultants said you can’t.

Paul Critchley 23:20

That’s not what this means at all. It just means if somebody needs to use your area, or come in, right and find what they need to find, they have to be able to do it quickly and efficiently. That’s all that means. The last one is sustained. But sometimes, as a community of manufacturers, we get into this habit of spring cleaning. So though, especially here in the northeast of the United States, it’s wintertime, and spring comes, and we want to kind of air things out, and we’ll just clean things out.

And then we’ll spend the rest of the year re-cluttering everything. So we have to do it again next year sustainment is all about keeping up with it along the way. So you don’t have to have that massive kind of event once a year, once every couple of years. So you never get to that point where you get so overwhelmed. It’s one of those things you just kind of keep up with along the way. So that, in a nutshell, is a tour of what 5S lean is.

Sam Gupta 24:25

Okay, interesting. So as you mentioned, and I mentioned that I’m not really interested in the kitchen, and I’m not qualified to be in the kitchen. Right. So what I want you to do now is we’ll touch on a couple of stories where the companies that you work with will not be in order. They were not sorted. They were not shining. They aren’t standardized, or they were not sustained. Just pick a couple of stories where you found that they were not following the 5S lean.

Paul Critchley 24:56

Sure, sure. That’s unfortunate. That’s pretty easy. Okay. Because it is something that people struggle with. So we had a client who specifically called us in for some help with 5s lean. So they had two of their biggest customers in for supplier audits. And independently, each client had told them, You guys really get a kind of clean this place up because you’re just you’re literally bursting at the seams with stuff, you just have a lot of stuff.

And we want to give you more business. But we’re afraid if we do, you’re not going to be able to keep things straight. Because it’s just when we walk around, it’s just racks and shelves, and everything’s chock full of just stuff. So they called us and hired us to come in and help.

Paul Critchley 25:45

And the short version is they basically had 30 years of accumulation of such a couple examples. They’d have a bill of materials that has 30 things on it. Well, a couple of those things would be ordered incorrectly. So they would come in. It may or may not be something that you could return. So because in some cases, this is pretty large equipment.

So they would make the decision, we’ll keep it, and we’ll use it on the next job. Well, they didn’t have a mechanism to track it. So the next job and jobs that came down the pipe, the engineers who were speaking out that job didn’t know that those items were available for spec-ing in, so they would just kind of sit out on the floor. And that multiplied again over literally over 30 years. Sometimes they were big. Sometimes there were small pieces.

Paul Critchley 26:00

So what they ended up doing was they would just stick things on a shelf. And again, they would say, well, it’s still an air quote. It’s a good part. It’s not scrap. It’s not inoperable. It just didn’t wasn’t the right part or piece for this particular thing. But we can still use it. And again, so they save it for tomorrow. But tomorrow never came until the point where they were just overwhelmed with the inventory. So that was a big part of what we had to help them with.

And if I’m honest with you, they finally admitted to me that they actually had a warehouse that they started renting to store all this same kind of stuff. Oh, wow. Yeah. So I’m like, alright, so you’re keeping all this inventory that you don’t need, and you’re paying rent to be able to do it. And they said, yeah, that’s what we’re doing.

Paul Critchley 27:26

Okay, well, so we sorted we had a heat burning. Yeah, right. So we had a huge sorting of that probably filled two or three, eight-yard dumpsters with just the stuff that was literally 20 some odd years old. Because it was, even though it was still good, it just didn’t have a purpose.

And I always like to say things have to earn the right to take up floor space in your shop. And in order to do that, it has to help you produce products that earn you money. So people, machines, equipment, right, all of these things take up space, and they have to be able to help move your company towards delivering value to your customer.

Paul Critchley 28:05

The dead inventory does not help you do that. And in fact, it hinders you because just like these clients told our client, we want to give you more business, but we’re not going to until you get this place cleaned up. And oh, by the way, it just doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look clean. It doesn’t look managed. It just looks like your basement or your garage. It’s like everybody’s favorite place on a shop floor is right here for now. That’s where everything goes.

And it’s like, well, right here for now turns into right here until somebody else needs that space for something. This will get shoved over into a corner, or somewhere somebody will come looking for it can’t find it. Maybe they go looking for it. Maybe they will go buy another one. I used to work at a company that had three Christmas trees that because they kept forgetting that they owned one, and every year they just go buy another one. So finally, you can’t make this stuff up, Sam. So finally, I go up on this mezzanine. And I’m like, why did we buy into the Christmas we already had to? They’re like, Oh, we did? Yeah, we did.

Sam Gupta 29:07

Oh, boy. So much fun. Alright, Paul, I think that’s it for today. Do you have any last-minute closing thoughts, by any chance?

Paul Critchley 29:13

Yeah, because again, I’ve been doing this for a long time. So I won’t say that. I’ve heard it all. But I’ve heard a lot. And one of the things again, getting back to what we started the conversation with, is LEAN, not just for automotive. It’s not just for high volume. We have clients. We have a public school. We have a major university. We have hospitals, medical offices.

And yes, we have manufacturers too. So again, you can apply 5s lean tools and principles to any industry. And you don’t even have to make anything you could be a service organization because, again, it all gets back to delivering value to your customers, whether it may be your work at a bank and you do mortgages.

Paul Critchley 29:56

Well, how long does it take to get the paperwork through for that? Well, why does it take that long? We’ve actually Value Stream Map this before. Over 90% of the time was this paperwork that was floating around this office was sitting in people’s inboxes, waiting that offers no value.

In the meantime, you have customers waiting for this stuff to get done. So how much is it worth to the business to be able to take that lead time and cut it in half tomorrow? What would that look like? So I just want to encourage everybody to give it a chance. I also hear a lot that people like, Oh, we tried it, and it didn’t work. But what did you do? How did you do it? Did you have a coach? Or did you just cut inventory? That was a huge problem in the late 80s, early 90s, where people followed the just-in-time model blindly.

Paul Critchley 30:41

And they said, Oh, yeah, I definitely want to do that. So they cut inventory by half or, or three quarters. And pretty soon, customers are calling and yelling at them, like, Where’s my stuff you’re late, they didn’t have they didn’t do the fives, they didn’t do the setup, production, and all that stuff.

First, they weren’t supported yet, in order to be able to cut inventory, which you can do, but you got to do some other stuff first. So I just encourage everybody just to give it a try. There’s what the worst thing that can happen is? I feel like sometimes people think that lean again is this whole big extra thing. And if the timing is not perfect, I don’t want to start because I don’t want to mess it up.

Lean is exactly the opposite of that. It’s all about just trying to talk to the people on the floor. The people who do the work know the best. They are the experts. It’s up to us leaders, CEOs, lean practitioners to ask the right questions. And the biggest one is, why do you do it that way? And if you get the answer, well, that’s the way I’ve always done it. That’s a big clue that there’s something there that there’s some waste in there that you could probably figure out.

Sam Gupta 31:43

So my personal takeaway from this conversation is going to be 5S lean principles can be not only applied to different industries but can also be applied to life as well. And what I’m going to do as I’m going to set my life in order to be sorting it more. I’m going to make sure that it’s shiny, it’s standardized, and it’s sustainable as well. On that note, Paul, I thank you for your time. This has been a fun conversation.

Paul Critchley 32:05

Sam, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it a lot. I had a blast.

Sam Gupta 32:09

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up learnings from our guests, and hopefully, you learn something new. If you want to learn more about Paul Critchley or New England Lean Consulting, head over to Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, you might want to check out the related episodes, including the interview with Ian Pratt, who discusses how to distinguish between the need for additional resources and operational bottlenecks that need to be optimized before investing further. Also, the interview with Max Krug, who discusses what actions businesses need to take if they encounter product quality or business performance issues.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe and spread the word among folks with similar backgrounds. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please review and rate us on your favorite podcasting platform or DM me on any social channels. I’ll try my best to respond personally and make sure you get help. Thank you, and I hope to catch you on the next episode.

Outro 33:18

Thank you for listening to another episode of The WB s podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, so you never miss an episode. And for more information on growth strategies for SMBs using ERP and digital transformation, check out our community at We’ll see you next time.

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