Lean Shipping

Martin shows how FastCap’s Kaizen Korners improve the shipping process at Toolovaton.

For more information on FastCap’s Kaizen Korners, visit our website.

05.30.13 | Categories: FastCap Products, Lean News

Genchi Genbutsu – Do You Really Understand It?

We listened to this podcast during our Morning Meeting. Good insights on why things such as surveys and focus groups simply don’t match up with going to see with our own eyes.

05.30.13 | Categories: Lean News

To Go Lean, You First Must Lead

Transforming an organization into a lean operation means empowering employees and being a cheerleader for change. This is a great article on a great organization that we discussed at our Morning Meeting.

Xylem Design is building an open culture that encourages and motivates employees to improve manufacturing processes.
05.24.13 | Categories: Lean News


We watched this video at FastCap’s Morning Meeting. Now this is Flow!

05.16.13 | Categories: *Contains Videos, Lean, Lean Fastcap, Lean News

10 Wastes


I just had a huge triumph it feels like. I brought this 10 wastes summary to our team meeting and initiated a discussion of how our current projects are actually targeting these various wastes. In a matter of minutes my boss was suddenly identifying these all over the place, and especially highlighting the “Untapped Creativity” one. I never expected that to happen.

It just shows, if you keep it simple, way more people can get on board the Lean Express.

Thanks, Daniel

05.15.13 | Categories: Lean News

Using Cross Dissolve in iMovie on the iPhone

Paul Akers explains how to edit the cross dissolve in iMovie so that the audio doesn’t cut off (transition = none or cross dissolve = .5 second).

For more information on lean, visit 2 Second Lean.

05.14.13 | Categories: *Contains Videos, Lean, Lean Fastcap, Lean News

FastCap Lean is Documented

Jon Miller, of Kaizen Institute, let us know that FastCap will be included in his next book titled Creating a Kaizen Culture: Align the Organization, Achieve Breakthrough Results, and Sustain the Gains. Cool!

Below is a draft excerpt:

Growing People Every Day at FastCap

FastCap is a product development company based in Bellingham, Washington, USA. Established in 1997 by Paul Akers, a veteran woodworker and inventor, FastCap engages its entire workforce of thirty people in the maintenance and improvement of standards every day. There are several notable features to the kaizen culture at FastCap. The company culture would not be what it is without the unique passion, urgency and energy of Paul Akers as a leader. As an inventor, Akers is never satisfied, always finding something in the world that does not work and inventing a solution. This makes Akers a demanding leader, a tireless teacher and for the unprepared, an exhausting source of ideas. When Akers found kaizen, he found a way to help everyone in his organization see the processes in his company in the same way that he saw the word: always something to improve. In order to make it as simple as possible for people to understand and immediately take action, Akers demanded that everyone make a 2 second improvement every day. He wanted to engage every person’s mind at FastCap in finding something that could be improved, no matter how small. Akers even wrote a 100-page book about this approach titled 2 Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Fun Lean Culture to share the story. Akers commitment to developing his people into problem solvers who are aligned with his vision and who understand the process takes the form of the daily morning meeting. Every day, for thirty minutes, every FastCap employee stands in large circle in the middle of their facility. They review the mistakes that were made on the previous day, the reason why and what can be done to prevent similar mistakes in the future. They engage in peer-to-peer teaching, rotating a different employee as the teacher each day. They watch a video to learn about history and discuss its lessons. They start their day as one team.

A simplistic cost calculation would show that the daily 30 minutes of non-productive time for 30 people at $30 per hour on average time 220 days equals $100,000 per year. How can a small company possibly afford this? Paul Akers would say, “How can you possibly afford not to?” FastCap ships a high volume of orders and we have no doubt that the two seconds of savings per person per day easily adds up to far more than the cost of the morning meeting. Although kaizen is an improvement to the standard, and thus a self-funding activity, this is not the right way to calculate the cost and benefit of daily kaizen. There are many indirect benefits of their kaizen culture which lower costs and accelerate growth at FastCap, but are much harder to calculate, such as:

· A positive, fun, engaged workforce in a family atmosphere

· Prevention of errors, avoidance of repeating errors, a quality mindset

· Ease of gaining top talent by becoming an employer of choice in the region

· Development of future leaders with deep knowledge of the company

· Increasing international exposure FastCap and its products through excellence in kaizen

No doubt many readers will remain in shock and dismiss out of hand the possibility of having the entire production team, much less the entire company including its President, meet every day for 30 minutes for learning and improvement. Yet how many hours each day do people in your organization spend in meetings in which zero learning and zero improvement happens? How far away from the actual workplace do these meetings take place? How fresh or accurate is the information being discussed at these meetings? How many times was the information transferred from point of occurrence to the reporting point at the meeting? What causes such meetings to be necessary? If we view the daily kaizen activity at FastCap as a countermeasure to certain management challenges, and reflect on the situation within our organizations, we can find the answer. In the broadest sense, we can view the daily morning meeting at FastCap as the ultimate act of maintenance of standards. Each morning they confirm their commitment to the company, to each other through the history lessons and peer-to-peer teaching, to the customers through quality reviews, and to their many shared cultural values. The cost of trying to manage and repair broken processes that would result from stopping the daily maintenance would be far greater than thirty minutes times thirty people.

05.01.13 | Categories: Lean News

Lean way to “cut the cheese”!

Hi Paul !!

Here at Con-way Truckload we are beginning the Lean journey. My boss, our President, has given us books to read, but as a single parent of two boys, time is precious and finding time to read is difficult. So I thought, I spend 50 minutes a day in the car just driving back and forth to work, not to mention all the time driving to practices, games, church, birthday parties for my kids friends …. and so on and so on. Therefore, to make the best use of my time, rather than listening to music, I decided to find some audio books on Lean. So I started doing some Google searches and found you, then went to iTunes and downloaded your audiobook, 2 Second Lean !!! What a great book !! I’ve listened to it three times in the last couple of weeks and enjoy it each time, and learn something new also.

You talk a lot about “having fun with Lean”, so I thought this story was funny, probably because of the title, but it’s goes along with what you talk about in regards to Lean at home. Here’s the story:

My 10 year old takes his lunch every day. And every day (along with a sandwich, fruit cup and other items) he likes to have two small slices of Pepper Jack cheese. So before listening to your book, every night while making his lunch, I would get out the brick of Pepper Jack cheese, get out a knife, open the package, cut off two slices, put them in a zip lock bag, put the cheese away, put the zip lock bags away, wash the knife and put the knife away. So now I’m beginning to think Lean, and this past Sunday evening, I get out the cheese, make enough packets for all week, then put everything away and wash the knife. So before your book, I was getting out and opening the cheese 5 times a week, getting out and putting away the zip lock bags 5 times a week, washing a knife 5 times, etc. etc. Now, I get out the cheese and zip lock bags once, wash one knife and I’m done.

So as I was doing this last Sunday evening, I was thinking about you and your book. Then I laughed and thought, this Lean is amazing ………………… there’s even a Lean way to “cut the cheese” !!!!

Thanks for your passion for Lean !!!!

Randy Cornell
Vice President – Maintenance
Con-way Truckload

04.12.13 | Categories: *Contains Videos, Lean, Lean Fun, Lean News

Lean training to speed up Whatcom building permits

Cuts to government budgets have resulted in leaner departments forced to find more efficient ways to get their work done. Whatcom County’s department of Planning and Development Services will take the search for greater efficiency to the next level, participating in a training program with roots in Japanese manufacturing.

04.01.13 | Categories: Lean News

2013 Lean Enterprise Summit

Paul Akers will be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Lean Enterprise Summit at South Central College in North Mankato, MN on May 21, 2013. Paul will be speaking about his book, 2 Second Lean. For more information on 2 Second Lean, visit his website. For more information on the 2013 Lean Enterprise Summit, go to this link.

02.21.13 | Categories: Lean News