One Friday we were considering places for dinner when my daughter suggested Blaze FastFired Pizza – a Chipotle Style pizza restaurant. Following the popular slow, fast-food trend, the restaurant allowed you to create your own thin-crust pizza with a variety of toppings and sauces at a reasonable price.
Apart from the great concept, I noticed that this place showed some impressive Lean principles at work.
The restaurant took our order on a piece of parchment paper. The parchment paper had the simple menu listed on the bottom and a spot for a ticket#, patron name and price. This piece of parchment paper became the ‘User Story’ and ticket to getting our pizza processed. It was used by the person constructing the pizza to decide what needed to go on the pizza, it was then used by the cashier to ring up the order and finally it was used by the person dishing out the pizza as it came out of the over as he lined the pizza plate with this parchment paper. We then rolled up the parchment paper and threw it in the trash when we were done – leaving the plate clean!
What an elegant way to use something that served multiple purposes and thereby eliminate waste.
Optimize the value stream:
The restaurant had several members working on their service team. There was one person taking orders, one person putting the sauce and cheese on the pizza, three others working with individual customers to add the toppings, one person was handling the pizza oven, one cashier and another person dishing out the pizzas. Whenever there was a bottleneck in the process, a team member would temporarily step into a different role until the bottle neck was removed.
The pizza was thin crust – so it cooked quickly, the vegetables were pre-cut and the pizza plates and boxes were neatly stacked to allow an efficient flow. A fine example of optimizing the value stream!
Deliver early and often:
Each of the four members of our party got our pizza right as it came out of the oven. Within five minutes of placing our order we were all eating our delicious, made to order, individual pizzas!
Empower the team:
The restaurant has a set of pre-designed pizzas and also offered the option to make your own. I had picked a pre-designed pizza but as I was in line as the pizza was getting built, I asked the person making my pizza if I could add a couple more toppings (that would not have cost any more). Without needing to ask a manager, she said yes, modified the pizza to my liking and voila, I had exactly what I wanted!
I also saw that the team was watching the workflow and seamlessly stepped into a role to avoid any bottlenecks.
Build Quality In:
From the well made crust, to the fresh vegetables, to the perfectly hot fired oven – quality was certainly built into the product. It made for a delicious Friday night dinner and four happy customers.
I did not notice signs of two other Lean principles – Defer Decisions and Amplify Learning – I will cast a keener eye for those the next time I am there.