I’ve Been Doing it Wrong my Entire Life!

There are these little things one learns sometimes, that will affect every day from then on. Little, but powerful. And I think I just came across one of those bits of information: The one piece flow.

Before I write a bit about it, check snappy introduction by Eric Ries. It’s in the middle of a talk – but the video here should start when he gets to this concept (47m 35s) and you can stop at 50m 30s.

So basically the idea of the “one piece flow” is: Do tasks that need several steps (like folding letters and putting them into an envelope) not in single production steps that you batch together, but in one continuous flow.
It seems is very counterintuitive, but actually quicker. Toyota uses is for it’s mass production, but it clearly can apply to all kinds of tasks. Physical or not.

Seriously, all my life I thought I’m acting really smart by stacking works – i.e. when creating lots of 3D objects I would create 10 meshes, then map them and then texture all them, instead of just doing each in one go. Duh!

Here are what I think are the main points why it’s effective:

  • Like they mention: Less stacks, so more space to work. And less shuffling.
  • If steps in the process are broken or there are flaws in the planning, you’ll notice early. Not just when you try to assemble all items.
  • You got an item ready early – you can put it to use or ship it to a client. Either case it again might allow you to get feedback.
  • It’s less repetitive – it allows you to work in a nice flow.
  • You’re more flexible – adding or removing some items is no problem

The whole talk by Eric Ries has a couple concepts that wowed me. So check it out, and if you want a longer explanation of the one piece flow, with the actual envelope test, check this video.