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Lean lessons from McDonalds

While we revisiting lean, six sigma concepts along with my team, one of my colleague gave an excellent idea that if we can talk about the concepts with a case study everyone can relate to, the understanding will be much better. McDonalds is something which all of us have definitely experienced. It was a great case study to showcase how lean concepts (mostly common sense) are implemented.

McDonalds is famous that it can make fresh burgers in just 30 seconds. I haven’t seen 30 seconds but definitely it is very much around 3 minutes which itself is an example. In this post, I am collating all such practices which McDonalds has implemented (It is all secondary research. Will hyperlink the sources).

The 1st key practice is how they have structured their shops and crafted their workcells . This video clip shows how the founders carefully designed the layout in a tennis court.

Image captured from the video (1:40 min)

This page demonstrate how redesigned their Universal holding cabinets. This definitely is something that requires careful analysis.

The next is implementation of “standard work” lean principle. They carefully reduced the variability from the process by standardization of even mundane activities like spreading the sauce.

Picture from the movie The Founder ‘Speedy System’

Even the way burgers are moved is standardized. This might look commonplace now but McDonald originally crafted these features.

The next is implementation of lean principle ‘Just In Time‘ which they call as “Made for You” model. This model does not require precise forecasting and bulk preparation. Each burger is made only once it has been ordered by the customer. It saves lot of wastages which were un-avoidable when food was prepared before.

Made for You system. Image source:

The concepts that we learn from McDonalds can very well be applied in any industry – Service, Healthcare, BPO, Insurance. To reduce the motion waste (focus / attention), in the internet industry there is a specialized function called UX (user interaction) which specialises the best way for product discovery. Standard work can be applied even in functions like consulting, however it requires much more creativity and imagination to find parallel links.

Please do let us know if the story inspired you to think ‘lean’ or if you have seen or yourself implemented lean creatively.


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