Moving Firewood


I live on a farm. I have a machine shed in which I store firewood for the winter. The shed is located about 400 feet behind my house. Every Sunday, I start the little Case IH tractor and load the bucket with firewood, and drive it to the front door of the house where I move it from the bucket to the wood box. That process takes one Pomodoro. About 25 minutes.

Unloading the wood from the bucket to the wood box is a highly variable activity depending on who is there to help. Sometimes I have a friend over who insists on carrying 4 or more sticks of firewood at a time. If my daughter is there, she takes 2-3 sticks at a time. Despite having a friend take a larger load, the overall time to unload the bucket and load the wood box is actually slower, by several minutes, even though I have a higher capacity wood carrier. When everyone takes 2-3 sticks at a time, it just goes faster. The reason is that it takes me longer to load up my friend than it does my daughter, and my daughter stands there waiting her turn. When I go with 2-3 sticks at a time, everyone is always in motion and the flow is smooth.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to move the fire itself to the wood shed so that I don’t have to move wood at all. Makes no sense in this scenario, but could be relevant when you consider how we organize teams and work in different places. Can we adopt a smooth flow of work, even though some people will be working under capacity? It is faster if we believe in LEAN. My buddy the high-capacity wood-carrier needs a LEAN course.

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