About 14 months ago I had some consulting work in San Diego, CA. I was invited to join the client company's leadership team for an evening meal at Stone Brewery. Included in the evening was a tour of the brewery. I have always been a wine drinker so I wasn’t sure I even wanted to take the tour. To be a team player I went along and found the tour guide entertaining and the knowledge he shared very informative. I took the new knowledge gained into the tasting room at the end of the tour and sampled some beers with a new mindset. One beer in particular, an India Pale Ale, intrigued me. The depth of flavor in this one beer surpassed any beer I had ever tasted before. I went through a personal change (accepting the fact that beer can be as complex and tasty as wine) and since that experience at Stone Brewery I have probably tried about 30-40 different IPAs.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself what if anything does this blog post have to do with lean and continuous improvement. Well lean and continuous improvement is only possible if “constant change” is accepted. So this means each of us, especially if you are in a leadership role, must accept and support change.
Change is the only constant, in this world and life, and there is a change brewing (pun intended) in the beer industry. I read that the craft or micro brewery business is the fastest growing industry segment in the US economy. For example I was recently in Portland, Oregon a city with around 40 craft breweries. If that business statistic is true the growth must be at the expense of the very large breweries who sell those bottles and cans of rather tasteless yellow stuff called light or lite beer. My interpretation of light is "light in taste" but the big brand beer advertisers would like you to believe it is all about the calories. My observations are that people who drink "light" beers consume multiple servings (batch processing for you lean thinkers) so the caloric total at the end of the evening is actually greater than it is for someone like me - one beer Bob. Yes, that is the nickname used to describe my beer consumption rate by some golfing buddies. When I do drink a beer (1 piece flow for the lean thinkers) I drink a craft brewed beer slowly and enjoy the complex flavors it has to offer. Today there are hundreds of crafts brews available and whenever I travel I ask for, and drink, a local craft beer.
Interesting also is the fact that craft brewers are by nature lean thinkers. The focus of lean is to produce smaller batches and reduce the cycle time required to deliver products to customers - that is the business model of craft breweries. By ordering a craft beer you will support the lean thinking craft brewers and add momentum to the paradigm shift away from tasteless yellow beer to locally produced tasty beer. It’s the right thing to do!
So here is my challenge to you. If you are still drinking that watery tasteless yellow stuff, the next time you want a beer, experience personal change and growth by ordering a local craft brew. Drink it slowly and enjoy the complexity of flavor. You will then understand that change is good, or at least this change makes you feel good and happy for the alcohol content of craft beers can range from 4.5 to a whopping 10 percent!