A Lean Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day festivities are a time-honored tradition in my family when we gather to give thanks for the things we truly value, such as family, friends, food, and football. Yet, the logistics involved in planning and executing this holiday can lead to a significant amount of anxiety for the hosting family.  This anxiety stems from a very strong set of beliefs about quality, including outstanding customer service, efficiency and maximum enjoyment factor.  When guests come to our home, we want them to have an enjoyable time, free of confusion, drama, and most of all cold food. When planning your holiday feast, THINK LEAN.  No, not a low calorie meal of tofurky, croutons and lettuce wraps! Instead remember the Voice of the Customer and AVOID WASTE in your planning and set up. While Martha Stewart may contest some of these, below are some things to consider when planning your celebration:

  • Overproduction:  Be sure to prepare your inventory stocking location (the refrigerator) for all the over-production of stuffing, cranberry sauce etc.  Cranberry sauce is only cranberry sauce if it still bears the shape of the can it came out of.  An alternative would be to plan ahead with a local food bank or homeless shelter to donate the leftovers to.
  • Visual Controls:  I recommend the canned version of said cranberry sauce. This product provides an excellent visual workplace design.  The indentions on the sauce from the can provide clearly marked portion lines.
  • JIT & 1 piece flow production:  Ever notice how by the time everyone sits down to the meal and gives thanks the meal is cold?  Instead, deploy a U-shaped buffet line serving from both sides.  This saves space, provides customer flexibility, and the food is at least warm when it is time to eat.  This also enhances the customer experience by adding flexibility and allowing the guest to customize their plate without shouting between the kitchen and dining room.
  • Over-consumption:  Food coma, enough said.
  • Pull verses push:  It is a day of thanks.  What kid is going to be thankful for being forced to eat Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, or in my case Turkey?
  • Rework: How many cold turkey sandwiches, turkey casseroles, and turkey pot pies will I have to endure?  I guess that goes back to the overproduction situation.
  • Movement:   No waste here.  People eat so much then go watch football, and thus all movement ceases to exist. 
  • Waiting:  The best part of Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie.  Why do I have to wait for Auntie Gladys to finish her meal before I can have my pie?  She should have started earlier if she knew her dentures would be a problem.  I’ve always said, “Life is short. Eat dessert first!”

We at Health Performance Partners hope you all have a blessed holiday season. Give thanks; hug your friends and family; and remember, “I am Second” does not mean I want seconds. It’s Thanksgiving, you can achieve both.

This week’s blog was written by Ron Geguzys. Ron is SVP, Operations with The Broadlane Group. Prior to joining The Broadlane Group in early 2009, Ron served as vice president, operations, and vice president, general manager at Aetna Specialty Pharmacy. Ron is a Six Sigma Black Belt and has led many supply chain improvement and lean manufacturing initiatives with PerkinElmer Inc. (PKI), Life and Analytical Sciences, General Electric Capital IT Solutions, The Ensign-Bickford Company, and AlliedSignal Aerospace. Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a master’s degree in Strategy and Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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