I thought I would talk about
I thought I would talk about my interest in simplicity. It came about through a variety of factors: overwhelm, the desire to move, and business school. The overwhelm comes from caring for my husband who has Huntington’s Disease and had cancer the fall of 2008, going to school, and trying to work to get experience. The desire to move comes from never wanting to spend my golden years shoveling snow, thinking my husband was going to pass a few years ago, and the job situation in Michigan.
Simplicity, in a Zen aesthetic and Toyota-esque way, is about function. Japan has the “5 S system,” which is:
It is all about having everything you need at your fingertips and nothing else. Japanese work stations will have all the necessary tools, neatly arranged, and nothing else on the work surface. A manager can walk past and instantly know if a worker needs more of something—or less.
The challenge of the system is not on the shoulders of the workers, but on management’s. That is how it should be. Management is all about knowing what the workers need and making certain they have instant access to it. It is about integration—having all departments working efficiently with the necessary tools and information at hand. It sounds so simple and it is, for the line workers. The burden is on the upper-level people to come up with the vision, goals, strategies, and details for every employee, and then to supply those needs to meet the goals, etc.
For the individual, you are the manager of your own life. I have found that there is no point in organizing crap, even my own. I have been, probably too slowly, getting rid of things I am certain I will not need and am unwilling to pack up, stick in a U-Haul, drive to Virginia, unload from the truck, and unpack. And I need specific goals, etc. However, the system has principles that are universally applicable: knowing what is needed, having as few distractions as possible, and efficiency of movement. Visual and practical simplicity require a quite a bit of prior thinking. It’s like the fashion model that takes 3 hours to look effortlessly beautiful. It doesn’t just happen or fall from the sky, wholly finished and flawless. The physical effort is the very last step of the process. The first step is knowing what you want.