Lean Marriage Tips from a Newlywed

Minitab Blog Editor 23 August, 2011

How can Lean Six Sigma techniques be used in your marriage?Have you ever thought that certain Lean Six Sigma practices might be beneficial for your marriage? Although I’m just a newlywed, I’ve had success with these Lean relationship tips in my brief time as a wife.


WIP, JIT, and Poka Yoke’s Take the ‘Honey-Do’ List to a Whole New Level

I’ve been told by my husband that long to-do lists stress him out and overwhelm him so much that he loses his focus and can’t complete any of the tasks on the list. Well, I’m a list-maker and multi-tasker by nature (with no sympathy), so you can quickly see where that conversation went.

I started to think about our situation and dissect it in terms of Lean thinking. My list of 88 things to do (I’m really not joking) isn’t Lean. If the unfinished tasks on my list are my work-in-process (WIP), or the unfinished items in a production process, then I’m in big trouble. Optimal production management aims to minimize WIP, and in my case, I keep adding things to my list even if I haven’t yet completed prior tasks. Talk about frustrating! I can’t seem to get ahead, but it’s no wonder because my WIP is much too high.

But how can we solve our problem? While I keep my backlog of “things to do” long, I’ve decided to task out each day into more manageable daily tasks for both of us. Utilizing a mix of poka yoke mechanisms and just-in-time (JIT) lean production methodology, it’s now much easier to complete three or four daily tasks. If either of us finish daily tasks and has time to spare, it’s easy to use the now-empty daily task list as a kanban for signaling that there’s still a backlog with more tasks that can be completed.

Sticky-note poka yoke reminders can also be used to enforce the importance of household chores and bills that need to be paid by a certain date. My husband appreciates sticky notes with only one especially important task. He knows that he needs to get that one thing done before even thinking about anything else on the backlog.

I’m convinced that Lean Six Sigma thinking can help in all areas of my life. After all, these techniques helped me to plan the wedding, and now they’re really coming in handy as my husband and I navigate married life together. Stay tuned ... more to come.

Can the Lean Six Sigma techniques you use to optimize your processes also be used to optimize your marriage? (Please share—I can use all the help I can get!)

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