Santa is Lean
I don’t mean “Lean” like skinny…that would just be wrong. “Lean” as in Lean Six Sigma or Lean manufacturing. I’m convinced Santa is a Lean Zealot; let me explain.
Let’s start with the data we have; there have only been a few eyewitness accounts of Santa’s workshop with the most famous coming from French explorer Christoff Feyt (pronounced Fate). Feyt describes his ordeal to the North Pole (and unexpectedly to Santa’s workshop) in his book “Destin de Feyt”. While looking through the frosty window of Santa’s workshop he writes of witnessing a U-shaped “chaine de montage”; translated “assembly line”. He further elaborates how this assembly line was fast and efficient. The workers (elves) were converting raw materials into finished goods with astounding speed, yet barley moving. The tools, parts and other raw materials came to each elf who completed the task amazingly fast.
Feyt was also astounded by the ease and speed of the cross-organizational transfer of toys; he used the French term “moyens de transport”, or the fastest transportation available to man. Santa has figured out the perfect flow of a production line. Additionally, the elves were singing and enjoying themselves while they worked. Santa has created positive work environment where workers perform at peak levels and love doing it (cookies and hot cocoa during breaks – perks of having Santa as your boss).
Let’s not forget about the logistical challenges Santa has mastered: He has one night, delivers to entire world with nine animals and a sled…you think you have challenges! This is classic problem solving where Santa analyzed his resources and developed an action plan that exploited the skills of his reindeer…namely the fact they can fly. Also, what about Rudolph? What unique capability does Rudolph possess? You guessed it, a glowing red nose. At first his nose was viewed as a liability, then it proved critical in accomplishing organizational objectives. Santa used Rudolph’s nose as make shift fog light (If you use a deer’s nose as a fog light, you might be a redneck). Back to the main point; fully using the time and talents of his people (reindeer), Santa has effectively eliminated the 8th waste of Lean…under-utilization of resources.
Santa eliminated motion waste among his elves, established production flow, uses assembly line and point of use strategies, fully uses the talents of his reindeer, has developed a global distribution system that is second to none, all during the harshest weather conditions on earth. There is no doubt Santa is a Lean Six Sigma Black Licorice Belt.
Merry Christmas, Erik
Historical Trivia: After Feyt’s encounters at the North Pole and subsequent book he gave up exploring to became a chef who only makes cookies, cakes and pies; pledging never to cook a healthy meal again.