I'm pretty sure I remember the first time I got in contact with Lean. As a die hard GTDer, I was investigating other support productivity tools and techniques (one good thing about GTD is that it is defined at a level that allows you a lot customization), when I stumbled upon the term "Kaizen". The definition, the way I remember it was "doing things a little bit better every day". "Duh", I thought, isn't that what we, all the living creatures for that matter, intend to do? Don't we all grow and improve? So what else is new? So I moved on and didn't give it a thought for a couple of years. It was only the second time that charm came, in the form of this video:
I'm convinced that the "productivity itch" some of us get is caused by an underlying intuition, almost a leap of faith in some cases, that there must be a better, more drudgery-less way of doing work. For me, this video materialized that intuition before my own eyes; so I started to learn about Lean.
At first I tried imitating the simplicity of the solutions presented in the video, but failed and fell off the wagon frequently, because I didn't know what the underlying thought was, what was I supposed to look for. The simplicity in those solutions, it turned out, was not so much about what you put in, but about all the stuff you've taken out... (the conductor mentions in the video several Lean terms and techniques, like the 8 wastes, the spaghetti trail, or 3S, that have become habitual for me now, as it is the aforementioned kaizen.)
I found, and still find now, outrageous that these techniques are mostly used only in the world of collective work (manufacturing, healthcare...), when they easily correlate and can be so benefiting in the personal sphere (both personal and professional life). It's as if the world of "big bucks" wanted to keep all the good stuff to itself. Do we really need to have to move 3,000 tons pieces of metal to allow ourselves to do things rationally? This video was like the exception to that rule, and luckily some more have been appearing with the passing of time.