The Rebuilding Center – Day 1 – Current and Future State

We wanted to go into more detail about our first event with The Rebuilding Center.

It included two main activities; the first was a secret shopping experience. We had five Lean Portland volunteers and five Rebuilding Center employees. The Executive Director and Manager were working the floor, so the staff could work to improve the organization. We paired up and went off to go shopping for the materials for typical DIY projects, like building a dog house, or replacing an exterior door. This allowed the staff and volunteers to gain a first-hand experience about what it is like to be a customer.

The second activity was to set a vision of that customer experience. They acted out a newscast interview of an employee and a customer, based in the year 2020. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to work through current state and future state activities without the burden of doing technical process mapping.

Here is a video of Steve interviewing an employee and a customer, as if he was a news anchor.

At the end of day one, we had a dozen ‘Just Do Its’ – small activities (about an hour worth of work each) that the team was going to work on in the next month, along with four big opportunity areas.

At this point, our intent for day two was to flush out the four big opportunities, and figure out how we could make progress on the first one, and test the ideas that we have for a solution during the day. This would bring the spirit of Kaizen to the team.

We met the team for an hour after work, which was one week before the full-day Saturday event. During that time, we uncovered the fact that they were really keenly interested in working on improving the “getting information to guests” opportunity. The other big opportunities that were of high interest are the donation process and the checkout process.

Update from Event #2 at The Rebuilding Center

I had the unique opportunity this past weekend to spend my Saturday with Lean Portland at The Rebuilding Center. This is a distinctive concept, with a wonderful mission and a passionate crew of employees that want to see it grow and succeed.

Since my previous exposure to Lean/Six Sigma has occurred only within the confines of employment in the healthcare industry, this was an eye-opening experience in the most positive of ways. Working with a group of employees that were truly invested in their organization and its mission was refreshing. Participating in an effort to further what is already an impressive and admirable cause was inspiring.

By nature, community non-profits are often grassroots organizations that have cobbled together resources and processes over time. Growth is not always expected, leading to a non-standardized approach to this expansion when it does occur. In the case of the Rebuilding Center, this haphazard growth has led to an endearing and quirky concept that both drives and inhibits its success.

How can they hold onto what makes it different while minimizing the drawbacks?


New welcome sign will hopefully help customers better understand the process


Thanks to the committed staff and our talented team leaders, it was possible to identify the areas in greatest need of improvement. Each one of these needs stood to benefit the staff, the customers, and the mission of the organization itself. The fact that these needs are so tightly interwoven speaks to the fulfillment that can be had from aiding a non-profit in quality and process improvement.

It will be exciting to watch the changes unfold at The Rebuilding Center throughout this coming year, and I personally cannot wait for my next opportunity to get involved.

– Chelsey McIntyre

Update from our work with The Rebuilding Center

Matt Horvat and Jared Davis facilitate lean event at The Rebuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center is engaged in a current state mapping, future state mapping and action planning event series facilitated by Jared, Matt and volunteers from Lean Portland.

It doesn’t have to be complicated – just customer focused! During a one day event in early September 2016, the staff improvement team became secret shoppers to gain a customer perspective and presented a mock newscast interview (set in the year 2020) to shape a vision of the Future State.

This is setting the stage for the group to rapidly tackle festering issues, like making measuring tape easy to find, as well as plan for larger projects like shaping the checkout experience. Fun stuff!

More updates coming soon, as we continue with follow-up events. Make sure you are connected with our social media accounts, or subscribe to our newsletter.