November 23, 2009

Bringing about a change – the lean way!

One of the most fundamental components in every business or household is inventory. Whether it is stocking up groceries or products in your store/ warehouse – inventory is inevitable. The reasons for holding inventory are many – ranging from economic/ cost considerations to improving customer service.

Cost considerations prohibit buying unit by unit as and when you need it. So, you buy things in some minimum quantity and then buy again when things are about to get over. You may also hold inventory to give the users what they need as and when they require it. Like, you may want to decide which perfume to use just before going to the party, so you keep few different brands with you every time.

As life or businesses move over a period of time, you start using inventory to cover up problems. This continues as long as you can afford it – till the bill starts hurting you. There could be many reasons that start building up inventory:

1. Sheer laziness of buying things often: Many times buying in frequent and small quantities is more economic, but we may choose to buy things is bulk and then see it getting wasted/ obsolete.

2. Spoilt for choice: Need to have everything at your disposal – whether you need it or not. Even though, the nearest shop may be only 5 minutes away, there are things that you want to see gathering dust in your cupboard.

3. Inefficiency in processes: There could be people doing things inefficiently, incorrectly or in an unplanned manner. And to cover up, you keep working overtime or keep things overstocked so that nobody discovers the inefficiencies.

There could be many more such reasons – the key point to remember is “Inventory hides problems”. This is true in personal lives as well as businesses. These problems never get uncovered in normal day to day routine and over a period of time, these problems keep getting compounded.

It is not often that you would proactively do something about this. Hence, as a safety valve, nature has created events that cause you to relook at life (and businesses). Adversities in life take you by storm and make you aware of the flab that has got built around us in the name of ‘comfort’. It makes you ponder over some questions:

* Do I really need all the choices?
* Can I not wait for some time if things are immediately available?
* Can I not plan or be a little more organized?
* Can I avoid hoarding excess or wasting? (Guruji recently mentioned about how the refrigerator has created more problems for us. Now, there is a tendency to overstock, cook more than required and then waste it).
* How much comfort do I really need?

Tough times give you an opportunity to change – and change for the better. It helps you come out of your comfort level (inventory), uncover fundamental issues and provides a chance to make life better.

So, do not wait for the next storm to hit you – Get lean and cut the flab out before that! With a spiritual master like Sri Sri in our lives, we can be assured that such changes will be very gentle and life transforming at the same time.