My baker is Lean

Last update: May 18th, 2009
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This is the true and common story of a small town baker coming up to Paris (France) to seek fortune. He found himself a bakery and settles down. Few months later a baker friend comes to visit him.
The visitor, also from provincial small town is surprised by what he sees.

The shop is small, no more than three customers may enter and it's common to see the clients lining up outside. The attraction of fresh bread is such that's not necessary to provide premium quality, fair quality's enough and customers don't pay attention to shop decoration or layout (or won't mention it) and pastry seldom sells, so there's just a basic display. Daily Newspaper sell better than the ill looking yet expensive pastry.

The Sunday morning clients challenge any weather conditions and bravely line up, as long as they get their fresh baked baguette or a croissant.
That's the only way to tame aggressive Parisians, send them buy bread.

In short, the bakery is a bakery amongst bakeries and the baker's wife runs it without peculiar passion nor ambition.
The baker satisfies himself with his shady bakehouse, few almost worn out machines and the help of apprentice.

He explains his strategy to his colleague:

  • Buy a bakery after fierce negotiation to get the best price
  • Exploit the shop with zero investments and lowest expenses
  • Resell after a while with a profit

No growth strategy as it would require huge efforts for low return on investments, the ultimate goal is to get a good sales price for the shop, with the best markup.

So this baker acts in the sense of Lean without even knowing the concept. He just does what other investors do with factories or companies.

The author, Chris HOHMANN, is Managing Partner in an international consultancy.

He advises companies on industrial and logistics performance issues.

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