I have always known that typically coffee shops utilize a “pull system” so I watched in quiet observation as my coffee was made this morning at a local chain and it was indeed a Kanban style approach being used (or a gated system for controlling the WIP at least as I cannot be sure that the drive to eliminate muda through continuous improvement exists ).
But basically here was the “flow”:
- Counter person takes my order (“the what is needed”)
- Writes the order on the cup and places it into the queue of work
- Counter person takes my payment
- When there is available bandwidth, the barista pull my cup (ie; “the work itself”)
- Barista sets the environment based on the nature of my order (double shot of expresso, etc.) This is where the adaptability comes in in a decomposition of the things to be done to achieve the success of the order
- Barista focuses on the completion of the order (“the done”) by only pulling in the work that they can manage
- Barista calls my name and delivers the product
This is a very simple process that they repeat but if you focus on their intention of flow it becomes very apparent that there is a control the flow of the work and applied focus to deliver the completed product. This combination allows consistency and execution in a manner that allows the people doing the work to control the queue of work to be done.
I just found this interesting as a simple example of a workflow that is designed to produce a consistent product and a workflow that remains gated to ensure that the person making the coffee is focusing on the order and not the queue until completion.
I feel somewhat confident that this repetitive action has been observed and the overall average “flow time” from order to delivery has been calculated as it seems that within a small deviation, my coffee arrives at the same interval each time.
As much as I love a good cup of coffee, I enjoy being able to observe a system at work that is so simple but highly efficient to deliver a consistent product.