As a kid, many – I mean, many years back – I was always fascinated to see black and white snippets of the classic Walt Disney movie ‘Santa’s Workshop’. To see all those elves jumping from one place to the other, building mesmerising toys, surrounded by what seemed like somewhat complex gadgets and conveyor systems, carrying all sorts of fancy toys, always fascinated me.

I guess those where my early signs of an interest that eventually developed in industrialisation, automation, processes thinking, and a strong focus on value generation. 

I might have been too young to understand at that time. Each and every elf seemed to know exactly what needed doing. All the bits and pieces seemed to fall into place, so magically.

Besides, the elf workshop needed to be pretty efficient to manage building the wished-for toy of some innocent child somewhere in the world – and Santa never failed to deliver right in time for Christmas!

What a disaster it would have been for that child to miss receiving the longed-for toy from some magical and mysterious figure, arriving on a sleigh all the way from a far-away Lapland!

The ‘magical’ process

But perhaps, it was not magic after all that enabled value to be generated so efficiently by the elves, and delivered on time by a reindeer-drawn sleigh.

I’d say that this magical and mysterious fantasy gentle-guy by the name of Nicholas was indeed a really Lean practitioner, …well, maybe not really reflected in his somewhat ‘colossal’ figure, but nonetheless, his workshop best practices must have been!

The magical formula can possibly be well-matched across the classical process model composed of the core elements:

  • The elves knew all they needed to know to get their part of the job done, and they did it well. They must have been highly competent little guys!
  • The somewhat complex contraptions and tools used all seemed to be just the right piece of kit needed to get the job done. Each task had just the right tool being made available to ensure the elves got it right the first time.
  • The productivity process must have been simple enough for the elves to swiftly fit all the bits together, like a breeze.
  • All the various bits and pieces seemed to be at the right place when needed, for the little beings to pick and place just the correct part into the right position – without fail! Someone must have thought out a fail-safe assembly process to ensure no defective toys are produced – no time to inspect, segregate, rework or re-do.  Time and material availability are of essence when you are working to such tight deadlines just a few days before Christmas delivery ETAs!
  • The whole workshop place looks so vibrant and energetic… Elves singing and dancing, toys flowing all over the place, colourful stuff all around. Happy environments. I could never seem to spot any REJECT label on any toy along the line. These playthings seemed to always be made exactly to the innocent child’s dreams and expectations.
  • Each toy made had a destination, an address, a kid’s name on it. No stuff is made that has no receiver. And it is all done in time for Christmas – the elves’ functional performance always seems outstanding.

Santa’s Elf factory has no opportunity to afford not being highly productive to satisfy all wishes! Especially with such varied and last-minute orders coming through from such little innocent children, scattered across all four winds on Earth. I am sure that Santa must guarantee that his operational overall equipment efficiency is maintained to extremely –magically – high values!

Down to earth again…

As much as we all love Christmas, and we all might be, in some way or other, associated to this great celebration, and possibly (some of us?) do in fact slow down the pace for a few days, we will no doubt come back to reality on the turn of the new year. 

Back to the daily responsibilities, struggles and pressures and what not, to maintain our best show possible.

There are many things that need taking care of to ensure maintaining ourselves, and our business activity, that one step ahead.

I am part of that game too. It is indeed, a challenge.

However, let us all consider the benefits we can all reap through somewhat simplistic, logical and common-sense thinking. Through the subsequent accomplishment of effectively implemented changes in approach, methodology, modus operandi – call it whatever.

Let us all strive at mastering such simplistic and fundamental tactics. It might make the difference. Once we do achieve the maximum possible out of basic thinking, we may then want to think of more refined and intricate approaches. But only once we have mastered the fundamentals.

What about our resolutions?

How’s this for a choice of 2023 resolutions then?

  • Keep matters simple, they work best.
  • Focus on key factors: logic, common sense and maintaining balance.
  • Reduce or eliminate all that does not deserve its own merit.

Then we can possibly hope for a more graceful new year, free from daily unnecessary frustrations, erratic affairs, and worthless effort.


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