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!

The Rebuilding Center – Day 2 – Action Planning and Experimentation

Our intent with The Rebuilding Center is to help out this wonderful organization in any way that we can. Their mission is awesome, the staff are wonderful, and there is so much more to what it does for the community than meets the eye. The other goal of the engagement is to set up a long-term plan, where we can establish a cadence of Lean-related activities to provide experience to Junior consultants who are interested in learning more about Lean and contributing to nonprofit development.

Last Saturday, we concluded the second day (see Day 1 results) of an Integrated Design Event, to outline a series of projects to tackle within a one year timeline. This was Day 2, which started out with an exploration of the types of customers they serve.

We decided to stratify them into two main categories, the ‘newbie’ and the ‘experienced’ customer. We had a discussion about waste from the guests’ perspective, by using an analogy of going to a hamburger joint and all of the things that happen that aren’t involved in you eating your hot meal. We then set out to observe guests’ experiences (of obtaining information) to identify different opportunities to streamline the experience, so that guests can get to the next step.

Through a root cause activity, we nailed down a hypothesis as to why guests weren’t able to get the information they needed. From there, we took existing materials within the store, and built a temporary information kiosk with the data and tools that guests would use.

It took us about 45 minutes to gather up what we needed for a rough draft, set it in place, and then watch guests come into the warehouse and see whether they interacted with the new information. It was a lot of fun, and we saw about half the people pause and read the sign – some even taking tape measures (a key tool) with them as they went to go shopping. It was a great example of getting real-time feedback on something, without spending a lot of time planning to make it perfect. Our follow-up was that the team decided to continue to get feedback on the kiosk, and possibly create two additional kiosks for the additional entrances.

Our next step is to go back and look at the long-term planning again, since there are a lot of opportunities with improving the donation and checkout processes. They would still like to develop a long-term plan to increase capacity while creating a more satisfying environment for their employees and their guests.

Please do visit the store and ask one of the wonderful people who work there what hand they had in creating these improvements.