Suddenly, David motioned me to get low.
I could tell from his eyes that he was very excited.
I couldn't see what he saw. But I got the message.
Big Kudu. Hurry up.
After the second world war, Toyota went from financial crisis to a world leader. A key component of their success was the Toyota Production System.
This system has been adopted by other companies under the term “LEAN Manufacturing”.
It’s a framework designed to create efficiency.
Efficient ways of working, and designing and building efficient products.
Long story short, it was LEAN thinking that led me to Warren Buffett and first principles thinking.
With my new theories ("window of opportunity" and "act fast") in place, I had a whole new way to think about hunting.
What happened to the Kudu? What happened to David?
As mentioned earlier, it hadn't always been this way...
At WMS in Wales, I was lucky to get a couple more attempts.
In South Africa, I only had one chance.
We were in an area covered in thick, thorny shrubs.
There was the occasional open space here and there. It was in one of these open spaces where David spotted a group of Kudu.
One of the bulls was large enough to make him look visibly excited. At first, there was an expression of awe on his face. This quickly faded to pure focus as he switched into hunting mode.
I didn't have a clear view.
I had to crawl over to a small tree where David had taken up position.
At the start of the hunting trip, I felt organized and ready to rock.
I wore a new, handmade safari belt and was sporting pouches bulging with additional gear.
As I crawled on all fours, my binoculars dangled around my neck like a pendulum.
I carried them in a regular strap. They dragged through the dirt and got snagged on some shrubs.
It wasn't a major disaster, but it was enough to slow me down and make me feel like an unorganized idiot.
David had set his sticks up by the tree.
A pair of sticks I'd previously had some issues with.
There was nothing wrong with the sticks. The trouble was with me. I should have practiced more with them. But I didn't get the memo...
I had to adjust them for what seemed like ages.
The window of opportunity that day was not the shortest I've had.
But I wasted the precious time I had messing around with the sticks.
The group of Kudu vanished into the bush before I managed to squeeze off a shot on that monster bull.
...David is no longer a guide I often wonder if that day was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Was I another just another client who couldn’t make the most of an opportunity?
After all, getting a shot off should have been a straightforward affair.
With that kind of memory at the back of my mind, I understood the value of acting fast.
Still, the question remained: how could I get faster?
I didn't want speed to be the root cause of another missed opportunity.
I wanted to make the most of the time and money I spent hunting.
Furthermore, I felt an obligation to nature and other hunters. An obligation to be the best hunter I could be.
Muda and Nagara
In 2006, I became a certified LEAN Six Sigma green belt while working for General Electric.
Ever since, I've used the tools and skills I learned to optimize processes.
As mentioned, LEAN is about straight up efficiency.
In fact, it was two LEAN concepts that allowed me to implement the principle of "acting fast".
First, I had to break the principle into two simple steps.
Muda and Nagara.
- Muda is something that doesn't add value.
- Nagara is defined as a smooth flow of production.
In LEAN, we talk about several types of muda.
They're based on product manufacturing and don't apply directly to hunting.
We need to use them conceptually.
Muda = waste
Removing waste is about creating room for value.
This is a good rule for hunting.
Will an action or device help us find and harvest an animal?
Will an action or device help us create and take advantage of a window of opportunity?
One relevant type of waste is "overproduction".
It means doing more than is necessary.
It applies to activities and components alike.
Regarding hunting, that could take the form of ranging an animal that's within point-blank range.
Or investing in a high-magnification scope when you typically hunt in the woods.
Nagara = flow
Nagara, or flow, is defined as transforming a workflow into a tight sequence.
For hunting, this applies directly to the process we follow when stalking and killing an animal.
It's how well we use our gear.
The "aim" is unconscious competence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence).
In summary, here's the takeaway from LEAN.
You can act faster if you: Remove waste from your gear setup; and create flow regarding the way you use it.
That's pretty simple.
But as much as I'm a big fan of LEAN concepts, they're not designed for hunting. I needed to translate them to the act of hunting.
Ultimately, I created a six-step process to help me reduce waste and create flow.
But before I go into that, first, I need to explain how I translated "act fast", Muda, and Nagara into two guiding steps.