2 Second Lean Key to Future Success at Cohen Architectural Woodworking
Since its founding in 1982, Cohen Architectural Woodworking has been known for its winning culture.
This includes a drama free, no excuses culture with a strong can-do work ethic. The firm has been recognized for success in business and the workplace, and has won multiple awards such as the recent Future 50 recognition from Small Business Monthly.
To propel the firm to even higher levels of success for the next decade, Cohen recently embarked on a new program called 2 Second Lean.
Created by Paul Akers of FastCap, the belief is that if each person makes a 2 Second improvement each day, the company will grow healthy and successful. Its principles are centered on maximizing efficiency and taking an empathetic approach to each employee’s wellbeing.
As part of the 2 Second Lean strategy, workers identify wastes and inefficiencies, make an improvement, and then create a short video showing what they did and telling how much time or money they believe it’s saving.
“We have 30 minutes of every day allocated specifically for finding new ways to eliminate waste and make things more efficient,” says Phillip Cohen, CEO and Founder. “Your energy is always going somewhere, and if your energy is going toward managing your stress, then you’re going to be less productive. So if there is anything that’s bugging you, using those 30 minutes to find solutions is your chance to fix it. By making a video, you can also share it in a creative way with everyone else.”
The new videos are shared at a company wide weekly meeting. Then all the employees vote, by applause, which video they liked best. The winner gets to keep a funny looking trophy for a week.
Implementing 2 Second Lean has led to cameras and would-be directors throughout the facility, and employees have since created more than 250 work process-centered videos. A self-made giant projector screen has also been installed on one side of the company’s workshop so the mini-films can been watched by all during a weekly get together.
“To be successful it’s important we give permission for everyone to release their imagination,” Cohen says. “I like to think of us as a little city, and we don’t want our employees to leave their imaginations outside when they come in to work with us. When we let them bring in their imaginations they learn how to manage their stress and also have the freedom to improve their work performance.”
A typical 2 Second Lean meeting features music, YouTube and an atmosphere more like a celebration than a typical workshop. It begins with a fresh breakfast, warm greetings and workplace stretches. After reciting company principles, the four latest employee videos are featured focusing on improving specific processes, reducing work time and eliminating waste or surplus inventory.
“People tell us we have something unique here,” Cohen said. “It’s like a holistic approach. You can even call it a spiritually-focused approach. We’re really focused on staying ahead of our own curve.”
The 2 Second Lean process is definitely having a positive impact with one of Cohen’s newer employees and most prolific amateur filmmakers.
“I definitely work harder each day I come to work here,” he says. “It’s like a personal challenge for me. I have the freedom to try new things, which is liberating. I focus more on how I can make the processes I do be the best they can be. I ask myself how I can eliminate the waste, and how can I streamline everything so anyone can come in and work in this system as seamlessly as possible.”
Cohen adds that he knows 2 Second Lean is having a huge impact on the company. “We know it’s working because we see our monthly financials.”