Lean and Green

Logo Herman Miller LogoA few weeks ago I posted and article about design and sustainability on our company blog. I saw this article on TreeHugger the other day in the similar vein and after reviewing the headline I  thought there was a misprint.  How could a giant factory only generate 15 pounds of waster per month?  But in reading the article I was blown away but some of the facts that were included in it.

Herman Miller’s GreenHouse Factory Generates 15 Pounds of Landfill Waste Per Month

  • About 45 million pounds of parts, materials and packaging come into the plant every year. Amount of waste sent to landfill every month: fifteen pounds.
  • 50% of the parts used are manufactured within 30 miles of the factory in Zeeland, Michigan
  • The “store” contains two hours worth of parts; each assembly line has a couple of minutes worth of parts. Trucks arrive from some suppliers as many as six times a day

This is a great example of how lean manufacturing works at its peak.

But the article also when on to talk about what employees do – how they work and how the environment is setup.  Something else that really stuck out to me was a picture that is included in the article or a huge skylight.  It is it obvious that the use of natural light helps with the electricity savings within the plant.  But the article goes on to say that as a result of the skylight

they save a fortune on electricity, productivity is higher and absenteeism is lower.

Being able to equate productivity and absenteeism to the way this facility is constructed is amazing.  I would love to see other examples of how this works with other companies. If you know of any please let me know.

Categories Eco

Not So Mobile Coupons

The other day I was emailed a coupon from CVS for my reward dollars.  The coupon said to print it out and bring it to the store to redeem.

FrustrationWhen I went into the store I realized that I  for got to print it out but I thought why would it matter?  I turned on my iPhone and  I brought up the email that I received.  On the email was my barcode for the coupon.  I showed the check out clerk and asked her if she could use that instead.  She told me that they had to have the piece of paper to put in the draw for tracking and that the barcode scanner could not read it off the screen.  I have tried others apps that allow you to store all your loyalty cards on you iPhone and I have had very poor results with the scanning so I was somewhat understanding of that issue.  But having the coupon in the draw when it tracked against my loyalty card kind of surprised me.  Since no one else could use the promo without my card why do I need the paper? She explained that I could come back and they would refund me the money for the item if I brought the coupon back in.  While it was a nice suggestion I was angered by the additional effort I had to do to take advantage of the savings.

I went back to my apartment and printed the coupon out and later returned to the CVS. When I gave the clerk the print out she was very kind and tried to scan it over and over and it was not recognized.  So she restored to manually typing the code in to give me the credit. White this 25 digit number was being entered I looked at my phone and realized this number was also on the email so I was a little more perturbed. After the transaction was completed and I had my $5 back I thanked her and started to leave when I noticed her crumple it up and throw it away.  I said ” I thought that had to go in the draw?” she responded with since I entered it manually I dont have to.  Very very frustrated I walked away thinking now I have wasted more time for something that could have been done the same way from the phone.

As I left I went next door to a Starbucks and ordered my usual Americano.  I opened my Starbucks mobile app hit the pay now button a simple bar code was created, it was scanned and I was done.  Simple, no hassle and a process that made the transaction feel better.

I think and hope that more retailers will follow a similar path in the future or risk loosing loyalty customers all together.

Whitespace in Music


Fender telecaster thinlineSome of my favorite guitar players are not what many would think of as tradtional guitar heros. They have all played in famous groups.  But one of the things that distinguishes them from so many other great guitar players is what the don’t play rather than what they do.  All three of them recognized what I like to call the white space in the music.

Andy Summers is well know as the guitarist of The Police. [ Perhaps not as well know was that he was also a member of Eric Burden in the Animals in one of their incarnations.] He played short reggae riffs and let the other instruments fill in some of the voids. He created tonal layers instead of trying to overwhelm the music with rapid fire insertion of notes to impress.

Johnny Marr was the lead guitarist of The Smiths. In some songs his notes were so sparse you wondered if he was playing.  In my opinion a perfect example of this is in the song “Half a Person“.  The entire song is made up of chords played in a slow appagio like format and then he would have the most unbelievable little hook that made the entire song.

One of thing most distinguishable sounds of U2 is the minimal guitar playing by the Edge.  While he may overlay tracks of sound or heavy use of echo and time delay – the actual notes he plays are relatively minimal to the overall sounds that he produces.

Like great design sometimes it comes down to what you leave out rather then put in that makes something so special.