Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Starbucks with Lean process

Affected by the economic recession, Starbucks started to look into the well-known lean process. As a result, Starbucks was able to reduce its costs by $175 million in the third quarter of 2009 [1]. The lean process is a method of cutting the waste and doing the job in an optional way.

There are few details in the article that convinced me Starbucks would succeed from the lean transformation.
First, Mr. Potato and his team went to local Starbucks to observe/count the time every process time takes in that particular store/activity and draw a "spaghetti diagram" to track the movement of employee. In the lean theory, this practice is a good first step in identifying action items to optimize layout. Like Shoichiro Toyoda, the president of Toyota said, waste is “anything other than the minimum amount of equipment, materials, parts, space, and worker’s time, which are absolutely essential to add value to the product.”

Second, Mr. Potato and his team were able to use these process times to identify bottleneck of the critical path, which is the resource that requires the longest time in operations. The lean team were able to identify the drink preparation as bottleneck and elevate the performance of the constraint.

At last but not least, Mr. Potato has a lean philosophy of continuously improvement, which means there is always room for improvement. There are some resources which can you explore the lean process. You can get more information from Minimizing Wasted Movement [3] and learn more about Lean Manufacturing Systems [4].

The lean theory is more than just cutting expense, it is about how to make the job more efficient and increase the overall value to the customers. However, employees are sometimes resistant to the changes. Convincing the purpose of their work and making them confident in the change direction will help. What else can help the company to create a unified lean commitment?


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