Who moved my furniture? – A Tailored experiment with the ‘change’


“Continuous improvement is a habit and has to be coded in the company DNA. It is a shared commitment among dedicated coach, motivated employees and enthusiastic leaders with high expectations”.

A very few companies reflect that truthfully and Kaas Tailored, a Mukilteo, WA based furniture store which makes high-end furniture for aircraft (like Boeing), corporates (like Nordstrom, Starbucks), and home is definitely one of them. Jeff Kaas, owner of Kaas Tailored deeply believes in the firm’s guiding philosophy centered in the concept of “Kaizen” not just in running the company but also in the personal life of employees. Over hundred companies (like Nordstrom, Starbucks) have taken the tour of this small furniture store to witness the live demonstration of Kaizen.

Eliminate waste while performing the work

This innovative workspace has no walls and no offices – and one underlying philosophy – eliminate waste while performing the work.  The website depicts the company as “painfully aware of our shortcomings”.  In traditional work places, walls can hide the truth from leadership. In the absence of truth, managers become liberal with the truth, the truth that suits their need and hide the real facts. Jeff talked about prevalence of wasteful meetings with no valuable outcomes.  Kaas Tailored meetings are short and like a stand-up to reach the decision quickly.

Great ideas come out of interactions with the people you seek to change!

The key idea is that waste exists everywhere. Jeff explained that on the individual level ‘seven wastes’ are everywhere and when individuals have to operate in an environment of waste it leads to anxiety, depression, and stress.  An environment of waste (or “filth”) does not allow the individual to do the top quality of work and realize their true potential. The same is true at the organizational level.
Jeff believes the company runs like an orchestra where everyone has a definite role to play and when they all play their role well you experience a symphony, a wonderful music.

 The best way to learn something is to teach!
Kaas Tailored offers a waste tour and over 100 companies have taken the tour so far or consulted with it worldwide. The employees take turn in giving the tour and it has dual benefits – it’s a good learning mechanism because the best way to learn is to teach, and the company gets brilliant ideas from the visitors.

The best way to care about your employees is to make them care about themselves!

Jeff calls their employees ‘leaders’ and managers ‘area leaders’. The managers’ job is to regularly walk down the team’s work area, understand each team’s visual explanation of efforts, and remove any obstacles to help teams meet their goals. At the end of the day one employee from every team takes turn to talk for 5 minutes about the learning of the day. This mini retrospective helps tremendously in identifying great corrections.

For Jeff Kaizen is about growing people. He believes growing people is a two-way process – both employees and employer have a role to play so that employees realize their natural best. Each employee at Kaas Tailored is responsible for identifying one area of improvement every month in writing. These ideas or Kaizens are a condition of employment and can be either relevant to work at Kaas Tailored or to their personal lives.

With the onset of digital revolution Jeff is willing to introduce 3D printing and Robotics to make the workplace even more exciting.

Jeff articulates that in a Kaizen organization everyone learns how to identify and eliminate waste.  Continuous improvement and waste reduction creates happy workplace and happy customers.

Ashok is an agile thinker, innovator, writer, and entrepreneur. Ashok specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile practices to build extremely high-performance organizations.

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