The Foundation of Continually Improving

We identified 4 opportunities to close the gap between our current and future state. Last time we worked with the Rebuilding Center staff, 3/14, we got some feedback about how some of their outcomes are improving.

The first opportunity we worked on was titled ‘guest education stations’. If you’ve popped into RBC lately a new signboard greets you with all of the supplies you need to shop; tape measure, pencils, hold tags, tape and other info about RBC. Remarks from Leif, assistant manager, is that guests are using more hold tags and coming to us staff less often with questions. This in turn has freed their capacity to tend to the work that requires their expertise. To sustain these gains, Pete, volunteer coordinator, made up a checklist to be used at the start of the day with a cart to stock the stations. There are many volunteers at RBC in addition to staff, so now staff do not need to manage the stocking – a volunteer does it and has instructions to refer to if they need.

The foundation is in place for the continually improving engine – good outcomes and engaged staff doing their own improvement!

The Rebuilding Center Update – Day 7

This weeks community consulting event with The Rebuilding Center was an amazing example of teamwork on everyone’s part.

The Rebuilding Center staff has expanded the Customer
Kiosks project and it looks great! I would normally call this the standardization phase of implementation…..where we copy things that work well and duplicate across the facility. That’s not really how things work out when you’re using reclaimed materials. They end up being the same only totally different depending on what we have to work with. Here are a few examples:


They look good and they work well in an environment that thrives on finding a use for discarded materials.

Implementing these kiosks in key areas of the facility help the shopper navigate the unique shopping experience at The Rebuilding Center. We spent some time on Saturday looking at ways to manage this improvement with standards. Asking questions like “Who will take care of this?” “Should maintaining this be assigned to a person or position?” “When will that happen?”

It was more talking about which questions need to be asked than what answers do we have.


Lumbar Yard 5S

There were handshakes for all, smiles, laughter and feelings of accomplishment from both groups as the team disbanded for the day. This is the people side of Lean. Helping others improve at the Gemba by sharing.

I recall many years ago when I was first introduced to Lean Consultants how they marched us all in the conference room for 3 full days and then left without touching a thing in the shop. We were subjected to whiteboards, charts, graphs, The House of Lean, and brought up to speed on the Japanese words for concepts we did not understand at that point. When they left we still had too much inventory, a disorganized cluttered shop and 13 hour days of making things we really didn’t need to make…..but no one walked with us and showed us anything different. Nothing changed.

We were fortunate to engage another Lean consultant that went with us to the shop floor and looked at what we were doing. He showed us how to measure and count and see waste. He worked with us where the value was being created and made us feel that we were doing this together. He helped us create a better work space and go home to our families on time. That made all the difference! If Anders Nielsen is reading this…Thank You sir.

Saturday’s event at The Rebuilding Center felt like the way it should be. Working together to make small improvements which impact something we actually do. Some small thing changes and our work is safer, easier, faster and we are better off for it.

I think it was Zig Ziglar that said “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Looking forward to our next event!!  Stay tuned.

Bret Matthews

Rebuilding Center: Year in Review

Nice mention of our work toward the end of the article:

And let’s not forget Lean Portland, an extraordinary group of professionals who are giving up their Saturdays pro bono to help the RBC become a more efficient and effective organization to better meet the needs of our guests and our community. When you visit our store in 2017, you’ll notice “lean system” efforts underway!

Looking forward to a great 2017 at the Rebuilding Center!