RSPA Recommended Read: 2 Second Lean

“RSPA Recommended Read” is a series of articles in which RSPA staff members share details from books we think would be helpful to leaders and aspiring leaders at VAR, MSP, ISV, and vendor member organizations.

By Chris Arnold, RSPA Marketing Manager

Did you improve your business today? If so, that’s great. If not, I have a simple challenge for you to start right now. Eliminate two seconds of wasted time from your tasks every day from here forward.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot,” said motivational speaker and sales expert Michael Altshuler. His quote resonated with me because I just read 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers. The quote and the book are good reminders that you are in control of your time and efforts – we all have 24 hours in a day, and we get to choose what to do with our time. Why not make the most of every second?

2 Second Lean provides practical methods to improve your business and your life by making a simple two-second improvement every day. Here are some of my favorite 2 Second Lean passages:

  • There are two foundational principles of Lean thinking: eliminating waste and continuous improvement.
  • Waste is like gravity; it pulls at you 24/7 and if you don’t have a method to overcome it, you will lose and it will win!
  • Lean does not make things more difficult. Lean is focused on intentionally simplifying any process. When you make a process simpler, you yield a better, more satisfying result with less effort.
  • It is not just about making everything faster, but about improving the quality of everything you do. It’s rarely a huge or drastic change, but small baby steps in an endless drive to continuously improve everything every day.
  • Lean is the art of subtraction, not addition.
  • Everything in life is a process. When you learn how to think Lean, you will start to imagine how you can make those processes faster, safer and simpler to improve the quality of everything you do.
  • When you simplify a necessary daily process from a tedious back-and-forth effort into an easy set of options, life gets good, really fast.
  • We are creatures of habit. Change is an easy experiment, but a bad habit is like a jealous, abandoned mistress – constantly vying for our return!
  • Lean is simple to the core. You will dramatically increase the odds of failure if you overcomplicate it.

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  • The most important thing to Toyota is people – teaching and training people in a culture of continuous improvement.
  • A consistent disciplined approach to continuous improvement is the gasoline that makes the engine run.
  • Lean is not just about growing people so that they feel all happy and involved. It is also about results – measurable, concrete results, that show a continual pattern of improvement.
  • It is an emotional and gut-level connection with the desire to see anything and everything with an eye toward simplifying, improving and eliminating waste.
  • When humility becomes a central attribute of the Lean leadership, a vortex of creativity and buy-in will follow.
  • A Lean culture is a generous environment. It’s generous in giving credit to others, generous in respect, generous in offering ideas, support and help.
  • A Lean leader gets excited by the prospect of unleashing all that untapped creativity and problem-solving genius that lies dormant in most organizations.
  • Lean is about eliminating non-valued-added activity.
  • Lean is about nothing other than teaching, training, refining, and improving the condition of people. Lean is not a mechanical system for eliminating waste.
  • Lean is a strategy built around a strong culture of Lean thinking that can effectively let value flow to the customer.

RSPA Recommended Read Rating: 8.5/10

My score is based on the core principles and practical applications of the book, not the layout, design, and structure. Because of dozens of unnecessary, goofy pictures and complex sentence spacing, the design score for the book is maybe a 4 out of 10. Don’t let the inside of the book fool you, though, as Akers is an accomplished hardworking professional with experience creating a lean mindset and company culture.

One of my favorite core themes in 2 Second Lean is the focus on self-reflection and improvement. Do not focus on others’ waste; focus on yours. Fix inefficiencies that bother you and try to continuously improve everything you encounter – it becomes a battle between you and waste. To be successful, you need to win the war against waste.

If you are ready to improve as a leader, purchase your copy of 2 Second Lean here.

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Chris Arnold is the Marketing Communications Manager for the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). Active in the association since 2017, Chris plays a key role in member engagement, new member recruitment, event promotion, messaging strategy & execution, and content creation. Chris helps lead the RSPA Marketing Committee and is responsible for the association’s email and social media campaigns. He also serves as the Executive Editor for Connect Magazine and Producer for the RSPA Trusted Advisor Podcast. For more information, contact