Bacon Revolution: Are You In?

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a bacon revolution going on. Everyone seems to be talking about bacon and eating more of it lately. Recipes are sweeping the Internet. Fast-food chains are peddling double bacon burgers, and upscale restaurants are wrapping steaks in it. Some connoisseurs are even adding it to desserts. To top it off, retailers are carrying all types of themed products, ranging from bacon soap, salt water taffy, to soda. It’s everywhere you turn.

Until recently, the frenzy had me puzzled. In today’s health conscious age, this new obsession didn’t add up. After all, 68% of bacon’s calories come from fat, almost half of which is saturated. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), foods rich in saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke. So, having witnessed bacon’s rise in popularity over several consecutive months, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why such a pig…I mean “big”… push for a food that we’ve all come to recognize as being so unhealthy? Is there a new, fat free form on the market? Have experts made a discovery that bacon is actually good for the body?

bacon revolutionUpon doing some research, there were no ground-breaking “bacon discoveries” to be found. However,  I did learn about some healthier ways to prepare and eat it. Reading the countless available articles, I had a sudden epiphany. It hit me that the meticulous handling of bacon provides a valuable lesson. There’s a right and wrong way to do things, and, in many cases, the right way is neither the easier nor the faster path (but it’s still “the right path”).

Suddenly, I felt inspired by bacon. To me, bacon provided an ideal metaphor for how a business should manage its operations. Much like there’s a right way to consume bacon in order to maintain a long, healthy life, there’s a right way for businesses to manage and improve operations to drive lasting value. Going about it the wrong way… well, there are consequences.

Don’t see the similarities between handling bacon and improving operations? Consider these few simple improvement recommendations:


Remove As Much Fat (Waste) As Possible

To lower intake of the saturated, fattiness of pork belly, consumers should consider baking it, rather than frying. For optimal results, it should be placed on a rack, which allows the grease to drip down into a pan underneath — keeping it from getting reabsorbed. This makes for less greasy, crispier, and, ultimately, healthier bacon.

Much like bacon preparation, businesses that effectively apply Lean methods can remove waste (the fat) from their operations. Waste can be defined as anything that uses resources but does not add real value to transforming a product or service. According to Taiichi Ohno, the father of waste elimination in manufacturing operations, there are seven unique types of waste. Once waste is removed, the improved processes require less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of operations.

Consume in Small Intervals

When eating bacon, servings should be kept small and include antioxidant-rich fruits or vegetables to create a more well-balanced meal.

To effectively sustain improved operations, Daily Workgroup Meetings should be held to monitor progress. Lasting no more than 10 minutes, these tightly facilitated, loosely scripted, daily stand-up meetings (a) bring everyone together as a team; (b) provide every person with the same picture of what is going on; (c) focus each person on the metrics and key performance indicators that they can control; and (d) generate a sense of ownership among the team about their area and processes.

Cut Back On the Non-Essentials

Regular bacon eaters should strive to minimize intake of other processed meats to keep their total consumption of processed meat to a minimum.

A guiding principle of Lean is to define value as perceived by the customer, and to leverage that knowledge to remove unneeded barriers (non-essentials) from meeting those expectations. To adopt the lens of the customer, operational decision-making should only be done after asking, “What does the customer value, and how might this decision help or hurt that value?”

So, with these ideas in mind, I’ve officially joined the bacon revolution. Now, I’m more focused than ever on driving sustainable change. How about you? Are you in?