Forming Stronger Links With 2 Second Lean

May 20, 2021

Lean manufacturing is a production method popularized in the first half of the twentieth century by production teams at Toyota. A lean manufacturing approach has been widely adopted by many leading companies in the industrial sector, but many find it difficult to sustain over time. “Lean” is typically aimed at eliminating waste from production, which is something that every manufacturer wants (including us). Lean is also traditionally more top-down, meaning that managers and continuous improvement leaders organize events and activities.  But at Laclede Chain, we’re after something more—strengthening the bonds of our team and helping our people grow. That’s why we really wanted to make this more about organic, bottom-up improvements.


We started our journey of implementing the principles of Paul Akers’s 2 Second Lean philosophy in 2020, and it’s making a huge impact on our culture at Laclede Chain. Although COVID lockdown put a damper on some of our progress, this methodology is transforming continuous improvement into a daily habit for our team, and further, we are having a lot of fun while we’re making things better. Here’s how we do it:


Tool Box Talks.  Each of our teams gathers on a routine basis to spend time celebrating our successes and discussing the things that we want to work on to improve. While on the surface these routine meetings may sound like a boring exercise, our team members have commented that they’re amazed at how engaged it’s made everyone in enhancing our quality and creating a better place to work.


We fix what bugs us. We make deciding what to improve simple—we fix what bugs us! The things that get in our team members’ way during operations are naturally those that create waste. By taking action and fixing them, we reduce friction and make everyone’s jobs easier and more productive. We are beginning to build “2 second lean time” into our weekly schedules to give our teams dedicated time to implement their improvements.


Gratitude and generosity. This may be the most important principle of 2 Second Lean, and it’s been the one that’s had the biggest impact on our team at Laclede Chain. Our daily habits reinforce generosity and gratitude while also giving our people the power to make their experience as a Laclede Chain employee better. The practice of these core values leads to a happier team where everyone feels valued, which ultimately creates better results for our customers (enhanced quality, faster lead times, and better service). 


2 Second Lean has not only improved our culture and production, but it has also led to great growth for our company. We are always seeking hardworking team members to join the Laclede Chain family. If you’re looking for your next career move, explore our available opportunities!