Jeff Bezos Kaizen: The Source of Dirt

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In Amazon’s 2008 letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos shares about a Kaizen event he participated in:

At a fulfillment center recently, one of our Kaizen experts asked me, “I’m in favor of a clean fulfillment center, but why are you cleaning? Why don’t you eliminate the source of dirt?”

I’ve spoken numerous times about Bezos on Lean Thinking, some of which are here, here, here and here but there are many more — just browse shmula’s Lean Manufacturing Section.

Here’s another citation from his 2008 letter to shareholders, which shows how he thinks and how every Amazonian is encouraged and taught to think regarding the customer experience, innovation, and waste:

The customer-experience path we’ve chosen requires us to have an efficient cost structure. The good news for shareowners is that we see much opportunity for improvement in that regard. Everywhere we look (and we all look), we find what experienced Japanese manufacturers would call “muda” or waste.  I find this incredibly energizing. I see it as potential – years and years of variable and fixed productivity gains and more efficient, higher velocity, more flexible capital expenditures.

What other CEO talks like this?  As a shareholder, I’m more confident that my shareholder value will increase with Bezos at the helm.  An example of Lean Thinking indeed.


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