How Being a Lean Person Can Change Your Life

By Rogerio Catarino, IT Director at ClearSale

You may have heard the term "lean" being used in college business administration classes, in postgraduate courses or even in magazine articles, but do you really know what it means?

Lean Institute Brasil defines lean as "a body of knowledge whose essence is the ability to eliminate waste continuously and solve problems systematically." This concept, which literally means "dry, without waste or excess," is widely studied and applied today in various situations, often in business management and industry including with Toyota's Lean Manufacturing concept.

Other examples of this practice are:

  • The Lean Enterprise Institute, which deals with a lean transformation model that can be applied to various business segments or fields of activity.
  • The Lean IT Strategies, founded by Steve Bell.
  • The recent studies of Eric Reis, who wrote the book "Lean Startup." The Silicon Valley entrepreneur proposes the use of the Lean concept as both a survival tool and a business model for startups.

As companies transform, whether it's a startup with great growth potential or a multinational company that needs to reinvent itself to innovate its products and services, these changes have been demanding that people/professionals be lean. But what, exactly, does it mean to be lean?

React Quickly to Errors and Learn From Them

Don't be afraid to innovate, change and make mistakes. The startups use minimum viable products (MVPs) in their strategy to capture the needs and perceptions of their customers. Why not apply it in your life? Create MVPs of your processes, projects or ideas; make mistakes; and don’t look for the ones to be blamed. Rather, look at the lessons that can be learned.

Eliminate the Waste of Time and Resources

Aimless meetings, prolonged follow-ups and postponed decisions are sources of waste. Think about the problem you're trying to solve with a meeting and decide quickly, act as if you were the owner and focus on the needs of your customers (internal and/or external).

Get Out of Your Bubble

Why do you need a weekly meeting with your team to learn what's going on? Maybe it's because you're distant from them. How about leaving your corner and sitting with them during the day?

Optimize Your Time

Don't be a slave to your email box, and reduce bureaucracy. How many discussions by email stretch for days or weeks? How about having a conversation and an alignment by phone or in person at the coffee shop?

When you're organizing your emails, don't focus on the latest correspondence; instead, prioritize what's most important to the company and act as if you were the owner. Whatsapp is a great tool to optimize communication with your team. Problem-solving groups can also help everyone stay updated about demands or problems.

In the end, we could list any number of reasons to support becoming a lean professional. But the main drivers may lie in the person found within the professional. Adopting lean habits can greatly help individuals become less consumerist and strike a good balance between their professional and personal lives.

By optimizing our time and reducing waste, we have more space in our routine to devote to the special people in our lives and to do activities that give us pleasure — helping us keep the focus on the needs of the people in this everlasting pursuit of happiness.

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