by Martin Eliasson
2007-05-24 15:35:23

Organize for flow

To make room for improvement, we must stop doing what doesen't 'work' and stop doing what doesen't deliver 'value'.

One can recognize things that doesen't deliver 'value' by asking the question "how much better will things get if I do twice as much of this?" For example: "How much more will our scouts learn if I carry around the same amount of things twice as long for twice as long time?"

The answear is left as an exercise for the reader. The rest of this article will continue to explore what we can do to stop carrying things around.

The efficient office

How to organize efficient office work has long been studdied and the general results apply to most logistics operations: organize around three 'storages':
  • Your desk which contains the stuff you use daily
  • Your immediate archive which contains things you use weekly
  • Your archive which contains everything else, typically items used monthly or less frequently

Applying it to the planning room

Organizing our scout material follows the same schema:
  • The things we use every meeting should be accessible in a drawer or simmilar immediately close to the working table in the leaders room a.k.a. planning room.
  • The things used monthly should be in a storage room or cuppboard close by.
  • The things used yearly is put in some basement room or similar. Typically this will be things used for the big yearly camps.

Below is an illstration of this organization:


Experimental: Marking the items

This idéa hasent been fully explored yet but it might be a good idéa to mark everything according to which place it belongs. Since colors are used for other kind of marking, It's advisable to use letters: "Y" for yearly room, "M" for montly access room and "A" for All the time. This way, even if someone immediately doesent know where to put an item, it's at least clear in which storage place it belongs.


Having the thing you need in the wrong place can either be considered as a form of muda (= waste) in Toyaota language) if it results in the thing beeing not used becaues then the thing is disturbing some other part of the organization. The other way to see it is that it violates the having things sorted and clean philosophy known as 5S, and such violations results in muda somewhere.

Follow up:

Currently we have started to implement the immediate archive in our scout house and already the time gain has started to impress leaders. Our goal to cleanup after a meeting in less than 15 minutes have been easy to meet and we are now capable of setting up all things needed for a standard meeting in about ten minutes.