In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Lean expert Keyan Zandy shares some fun tips and a Lean planning template example for having a happy and Lean Thanksgiving.
A Lean Thanksgiving
Years ago, a friend asked me how happy I would be if I was gifted 1 million dollars.
“Ecstatic,” I answered. “I’d jump up and down, screaming and shouting!”
Then he asked, “Would you take it if meant you wouldn’t wake up tomorrow?”
“Wait…what?” I replied. “No way.”
“How about 10 million dollars? Would you take 10 million dollars, knowing that it meant you wouldn’t wake up in the morning?”
I said no again. And then I asked him why he was asking me such dumb questions.
He answered, “So, what you’re saying is that waking up in the morning is worth more than 10 million dollars? Do you celebrate every morning you wake up like you won 10 million dollars?”
That conversation has stuck with me, and I especially think about it around Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays. Every year, I enjoy the time spent with family and I always reflect on just how thankful I am for the many blessings in my life. In the spirit of Thanksgiving—and since this is a Lean Construction blog, and I’m a Lean enthusiast—I thought it would be fun to share some tips for a “Lean Thanksgiving.”
Conditions of Satisfaction
At Skiles Group, we try to kick off every construction project with a Lean tool called True North or Conditions of Satisfaction. Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) are the criteria that define what success means. Here’s how it works on a construction project. Every stakeholder (owner, architect, general contractor, trade partner) shares what would make the project a success to them, individually. Some examples from a recent session I attended included: “finishing on time”, “zero safety incidents”, “no quality issues”, “making budget”, and so on.
This year, my wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and I wondered what would add value for our guests, individually, to make the holiday special—because if we ask our family how they define a wonderful holiday, then we can get to work on creating it!
I decided to ask them, “How would you define a successful Thanksgiving?” and here is what I got back:
Mom – Having children and grandchildren talking and playing together. Making everlasting memories.
Dad – Spending time with family, eating good food, having my son make me a good cocktail, watching my Dallas Cowboys kick A$$.
Wife – Cooking with family in the kitchen and making delicious appetizers, sides, and snacks.
Sons – Eating turkey and spending time with grandparents, uncles/aunts, and cousins.
Sister – Good food (turkey and appetizers), good wine (chardonnay and pinot noir), deep conversations.
Brother-In-Law – Watching basketball, cranberry sauce, stuffing, family time, and an afternoon nap.
Niece/Nephew – Eating turkey, eating sweets.
Fingers crossed on that Cowboys game!
As a barbecue aficionado, I love to smoke meat in my Big Green Egg, and a smoked turkey is always my preference for Thanksgiving. That’s the plan again this year, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to teach a little Pull Planning to help me figure out when I need to buy my frozen turkey from the store.
Step 1: The Activities
I’ve just pulled out my stickies and have started to go through all the activities required to be ready to serve the Thanksgiving meal.
- Slice/serve turkey
- Cool turkey
- Smoke turkey
- Bring smoker to temperature
- Season/prep turkey
- Brine 15lb turkey
- Defrost turkey
- Buy 15lb turkey
Step 2: The Durations
Next, time to think how long each of these durations should take:
- Slice/serve turkey = 15 minutes
- Cool turkey = 15 minutes
- Smoke turkey = 4 hours
- Bring smoker to temperature = 1 hour
- Season/prep turkey = 30 minutes
- Brine 15lb turkey = 11 hours
- Defrost turkey = 72 hours
- Buy 15lb turkey = 30 minutes
Step 3: The Handoffs
Almost every activity has a handoff, or predecessor, meaning the thing that comes before it. In other words, it’s what must happen before the next thing can be done. So, for me, in order to slice and serve the turkey, the turkey needs to cool; before the turkey cools, I’ll have needed to smoke it in my Big Green Egg, and so on. Below is an example of my stickies with the activities, durations, and now handoffs listed.
Our goal is to serve the Thanksgiving meal at 4pm on Thursday. If you add up all the durations (15 minutes + 15 minutes + 4 hours + 1 hour + 30 minutes + 11 hours + 72 hours + 30 minutes), we know I will need to be headed to the supermarket to buy my 15lb turkey 89 hours and 30 minutes beforehand. For those doing the math, that’s Sunday, November 21, 2021, at 6:30 am!
Giving Thanks via Plus/Delta
It is a tradition in our family to go around the table so each person can say what they are thankful for. Some years, everyone writes down their sentiment on a piece of paper, and then we put the papers in a hat and try to guess who wrote what. It makes it fun and changes it up a bit. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we plan to do a Thanksgiving Plus/Delta this year. The plus will be What you are thankful for? and the delta will be What you would change next year to show more gratitude? For me, I’m grateful for the health and happiness of my two boys, and the love and support of my spouse. My delta to work on is to be more intentional in the way I show my love and appreciation.
To all, have a wonderful holiday.