Lean for Life

Michael Wagner

Michael Wagner

Better living through… manufacturing?

Could be.

A new post on “The Whole U” blog tackles the complicated task of simplifying your life by adapting the principles of “lean” manufacturing, as modeled by Michael Wagner, an assistant professor of operations management and Neal and Jan Dempsey Endowed Faculty Fellow at the Foster School of Business.

Written, with both insight and whimsy, by Wagner’s wife, Chiara Iacoviello, the essay suggests that we all could profit from the insights of lean, a Japanese-designed systematic method of eliminating waste in the process of making stuff.

To help simplify, Iacoviello and Wagner adapt the wisdom of the Toyota Production System, precursor of lean, to excise three kinds of waste from everyday living: muda (anything that doesn’t add value), muri (overburden) and mura (unevenness).

As an actionable technique, they suggest applying the “Five Whys,” a technique of drilling down to the root cause of personal inefficiency, be it delinquent bill paying, a forgotten birthday or inbox hoarding.

The post closes on the consummate principle of lean that Wagner tries to model in his own life: kaizen, or continuous improvement. “Never be satisfied,” he says. “You can always do something better and there is always room for improvement. Getting things done is not about working harder, but working smarter.”

Read the entire Whole U post here.

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