A letter to my brother-in-law, on Lean

Recently, my brother-in-law subscribed to this blog.  (I think his deepest aspiration is to one day be a stay-at-home mom.)  So I thought I would give him some special advice, to help him along.
Dear Brother,
Welcome to Successful-SAHM!  We’re glad you’re here.  We’ll try to make you feel welcome, but there are a few things you need to know:
1)  Be nice to me or else I’ll write about you.  In fact, I might write about you anyways.

2)  On a more serious note:  lean is 50% about eliminating waste, and 50% about building people.  Make sure you take the time to build the people in your family.  Encourage, strengthen, nurture.  Be a booster to your wife – help her do and be more than she thinks she can.  Even though we constantly tell our children ‘you can do it!’, we stay-at-home moms have this weird tendency to write ourselves off.  Don’t let that happen in your household!

3)  You are already well-acquainted with all things lean including the 8 wastes, but to re-cap with a ‘home’ slant:  #1 is overproduction.  So…hang your stuff up and don’t throw it in the laundry until it’s actually dirty.  #2 is transportation.  Ordering online means stuff gets delivered to your door instead of your wife having to trudge her way through the snow and ice!  #3 – inventory.  Learn to use up what you have; set yourself to enjoy the creative meals made from what was on hand!  #4 is defects, and this is not only when something is wrecked, but also when something is done based on wrong or insufficient information.  Communication is key!  For example, if you ask for souffle for your anniversary meal – and you forget to specify chocolate souffle – and she makes you a lovely spinach Parmesan souffle…that’s waste #4, a defect based on insufficient information.  Waste #5 is over-processing, when you create a special process to deal with a different broken process.  So if you insist your wife learn how to turn spinach Parmesan souffle into chocolate souffle, instead of fixing the communication flow…that would definitely be over-processing.  The #6 waste is motion.   Make sure there’s plenty of storage where your beloved needs it.  Pantry in the kitchen, cupboards in the laundry room, shelves close to where toys and books are, a closet for your coats by the front door, and so on.   #7 Waiting.  This can be as simple as waiting for the washer to finish so the clothes can be moved to the dryer, but it can also be deeper than that.  If the family doesn’t have a clear set of goals, and a clear sense of direction, there will be times when one of you is at loose ends, wondering ‘what next?’  On the other hand, if you have clear goals together, when you find yourselves with a few minutes to spare you will enthusiastically do something that moves your family closer to those goals.  (I know, I know…right now it’s hard to imagine a few minutes to spare, isn’t it!)

4)  And the 8th waste is talent, which brings us back to boosting each other and building each other.  This doesn’t mean you assume you both already have all the skills needed to get through life, but rather that you keep acquiring those skills.  Make mistakes!  Keep learning, keep teaching!  Try new ways of doing things!
5)  And the last critical piece of advice is probably the most important:  come visit us often!  🙂
The mom