An Interview With Paul Akers: Creating More Value For Customers With Fewer Resources
What is LEAN?
Everything you do in life is a process. From answering your emails to brushing your teeth, to how you prepare your breakfast, all processes. LEAN seeks to engage your mind in examining waste within each process. LEAN helps you go from the starting point and shrink down and remove the waste, which is the non-value adding activity.
LEAN helps you deliver higher quality to your customers
Applications For Your Personal Life
You can take the small daily tasks that you do every day and take out the dead time. Take that time that is not being used on a process, or to better a process, and remove it. This could mean using recorded meetings or recorded video instead of a live call to avoid that dead space where nothing is really being accomplished.
This could also mean using a Keurig vs. a regular coffee pot. With a regular coffee pot, you are taking the filter and applying it, putting in the grounds, adding the water, etc. With the alternative, you are putting in a small cup, and pressing start.
Preparing for the LEAN process
The first step is changing the way you think. Don’t look at it as trying to save time or accomplish more, but really bringing joy into your work.
“Why shouldn’t work be unbelievably amazing? The most incredible experience of your life? The problem is it’s not. Why? Because the processes by which we conduct work or Clunky, burdensome, cumbersome, and we really don’t want to do a lot of them.”—Paul Akers
Using lean in your work and business process helps to train your mind to think “this should be enjoyable, it should be meaningful”.
It’s about making small changes
When implementing LEAN, taking small, incremental movements to get to the goal you desire will help you keep these changes for a longer period of time. You are climbing a mountain, not running a sprint. To change your entire perspective, empowering your mind to think differently, is very hard for some and may take more time.
Start With Your Home Life First
Changes are easier to see when you implement them at home. You can feel the benefits immediately and you are not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of work and employees.
To succeed in LEAN you need to be honest with yourself and the leader should always give credit to other people when earned.
Why you should listen to Paul Akers:
Paul’s Company does tens of millions of dollars in business yearly. They are in 40 countries and have 3000 distributors around the world. Yet, with all of that, they have no HR department, no financial department, no marketing department, no sales, no maintenance, and no gardening.
99% of every order goes out within 2 hours
Operational excellence is its marketing. They don’t have to do any marketing because it is automatic, and it is all word of mouth.
Home Service Businesses and LEAN
Contracting businesses are the most wasteful industry outside medical and general contractors (builders and tradespeople). Everything involved in their work is a process. This includes things such as how they prepare in the morning, how they communicate with the customer, how they have their tools organized, and even how they execute their service within the customer’s home. Someone in this industry, in these businesses, would have to break apart every process and then break them down individually. The best idea here would be to take the tasks that generally take the most amount of time and break them down first.
Changing your mindset is the most important step of LEAN
“Your purpose in life is to serve and help other people.”—Paul Akers
Evaluate your life. Take stock in where you currently are in everything. Look at how you feel about your work, about your home, about your relationships, and if you don’t like where you are, you are not going to change this by repeating the same actions you have been.
Start by seeing the big picture, this is your life. If you are unhappy about something, start making the changes where applicable and go from there. Paul says that generally, the people that are frustrated with their lives are that way because they are focusing on the wrong parts of their lives. He recommends they should focus more on contributing to the world, to society and other human beings that are engaged in their lives.
“Applying this thought to a business meeting: When you go into a negotiation, learn how you can help the other person, you will win almost every single time.”—Tommy Mello
It is really simple. Be a servant. Most people miss the point of business. When you start a business, it is because you see a need that you can fix or that you can take on for someone else. If you serve that customer at a higher level and deliver more value to the service to that customer, you are really serving them and their needs. Money, then, is a simple by-product.
With LEAN, everyone from top to bottom in a company is participating. Everyone is involved, learning, incorporating the changes and making the plans.
What it comes down to is fix what bugs you. The minute something irritates you, the minute you feel anxious and you begin to struggle, stop, take a step back, and start improving it. Do not put it off, do not say wait until next time, right then.
Let your creativity out!
When your mind is constantly cluttered with all that goes into every process, there is no room for creativity, no room to grow. LEAN is the vehicle to being hyper creative. The clunky processes bound our mind up into mazes of problems to solve. Let out your creativity and thrive, move your business forward.
Books recommended by Paul:
Good to Great
How to Win Friends and Influence People
2 Second Lean
Built to Last
“Start now, not in a half an hour, and not tomorrow.”–Paul
To learn more about LEAN from Paul Akers: