Many times, solutions to operations problems can be found in unexpected places. In some cases, the opportunity for improvement is only recognized when a superior example is discovered. A fast-food restaurant could easily be overlooked by other service providers and manufacturers seeking best practices. The examples below aim to demonstrate why this potential benchmark should not be so quickly dismissed.
Unbeknown to me as a teenager, working in a fast-food restaurant provided a number of lessons that I would later recognize as lean operations principles. Several examples are briefly explained here.
Many other examples surely exist. The same approach also applies to other areas of business, such as sales, marketing, or customer service. The purpose here is only to encourage readers to keep an open mind and look for opportunities to adapt solutions discovered in unrelated environments. To the extent there are no intellectual property violations, adapt the solutions you discover and make them your own.
Creativity does not require a development to be new to the world; creative application of an existing process, technology, or technique can also provide the performance boost your business needs to succeed. As a bonus, it is often less time-consuming and less costly to adapt and repurpose existing knowledge and expertise than it is to develop it anew.
If I can help you discover or adapt an improvement to your business, please contact me. Perhaps we could discuss it over a burger and fries.
If you have other examples of lessons learned from unexpected sources, please share them in the comments section.
Jody W. Phelps, MSc, PMP®, MBA
JayWink Solutions, LLC
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