3 mins read

Just In Time

It’s good for other things too, right?

Those in business will recognize the term “Just In Time” as an inventory strategy – most often associated with manufacturing.

With more demands on my professional time, it seems I’ve unconsciously applied this strategy to my efforts here on Timely Insights… That got me thinking, where else can it be applied?


Backing up – where it all started

Just In Time carries a history in the manufacturing world (and is a great phrase to have on your card when playing “buzz word bingo”). The concept is simple – produce (or purchase) exactly what you need just before you need it. The upside is that you’ll have less money tied up in inventory, reduce the space required to keep things sitting around, and avoid the potential of having excess goods that you don’t have a buyer for.

Rolling in and rolling out

Let’s look at automobile manufacturing to help clarify how the strategy works.

If you know you’ve got to deliver 10,000 cars this month, you’ll need 10,000 steering wheels, right? In “the old way”, you’d have a storehouse with a whole lot of steering wheels in boxes on shelves and when the stock drops down past some “safety” point, you’d get another shipment in.

With JIT methodologies in place, you’ll calculate that you need 2500 each week, or 500 each day – and then instead of getting one or two large shipments into your warehouse, you’ll have your distributor deliver 500 each and every day right to the production floor, keeping in inventory at most enough to cover a day or two.

The parts roll in, and the cars roll out.

Twinkies have a shelf life of what?

In addition to Manufacturing, Just In Time techniques are pretty much required for some industries that have perishable goods:

  • Dairy goods – check
  • Bakeries – check
  • Restaurants – check (at least I hope so!)

Mixed use

Some activities call for JIT within certain situations.

Consider a skill like golfing – to rise to expert status, you need dedicated effort over a long period. Hitting some balls on the range and dropping some putts may make sense as a “warm up” exercise, but doing so after a few years out of the profession isn’t likely to be enough to get back to championship form.

But for a novice, a half hour of instruction from a pro just before 9 holes on the par-3 course just might be enough to turn a potentially awful experience into a pleasant afternoon.

Life is like that too

Some things you just can’t stockpile:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Breathing

(Though some people like to try eating ahead of the game, and the body does let you build some of that up, but you’re better off not allowing that to happen;-)

Some things you like to be able to build up and set aside:

  • Light bulbs and toilet paper (within reason;-)
  • Vacation time
  • Retirement and personal savings

But services are almost always Just In Time

You just can’t do things like cut your hair a year ahead of time, or shower for a week on Sunday, and relationships and family pets need continual care.

And close to home for me – when you’re writing “in the moment”, it’s almost always at “the last moment” as well…

Here’s to getting your things done ahead of schedule and getting as much done ahead of time as you can manage.