Avoiding the Double Life

Hypocrisy -- It's a vice we all hate. The opposite virtue to hypocrisy is authenticity or integrity. All of us want to be authentic in every aspect of our life and to be known as people of integrity, which by definition means that there are no seams between our professional and personal lives.

As a Lean Six Sigma practictioner and federal employee, I am especially sensitive to the question raised in this article called "Practicing What We Teach." At work, I try to help my fellow employees (military and civilian) identify and eliminate waste in our everyday processes. I also try to do this in my own workspace. For example, I organize my major project files electronically in three categories:

  • Archive: Past projects or documents seldom referred to
  • Reference: Past projects and helpful current reference documents frequently referred to
  • Working: Current projects not yet completed but in progress or planning.

For paper copies, I try to do the same yet also minimize paper copies of anything to avoid unnecessary desk and filing cabinet clutter. By the way, these ideas are not my original ideas. They come from Daniel Markovitz's excellent book, "A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance" (CRC Press, 2012). I highly recommend this book for its ease of explaining Lean concepts with ample doses of humor and real-life examples from the author's experience.

I find implementing Lean concepts in my workspace relatively simple compared to the challenges my wife and I face at home with three small children ranging from six to two years of age living in a two-bedroom townhouse. Integrating Lean principles at home is a lot harder, but not impossible. This is a journey, and by no means have we reached our destination. However, this past summer my wife and I decluttered our basement by over 90% of the children's toys, which do have a way of implementing the command from Genesis 1: "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it." Decluttering the toys and finding logical locations for those we keep is an example of the Lean principle of 5S (Sort, Shine, Straighten, Standardize, and Sustain). My oldest son is highly functioning autistic so to further help him, we have begun to implement picture schedules to help him focus on what he is supposed to do in his daily routine. This is an example of the Lean principle of Visual Controls and Standard Work. There can be many more examples to use at home, but these are a couple ways which we are trying to do to "practice what we teach."

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