How We Turned Nerd Bakery into a Lean & Agile Running Machine

Carl Johnson

When I created Nerd Bakery the goal was always to be different. I was inspired by Dodo Pizza and there mix of technology and pizza.
That said, I wanted a bakery that embraced all the things I enjoyed about IT such as agile, Kanban, Lean and Digital Marketing. I knew if I focused on process management I could produce a consistent product every time. For large bakeries, this isn’t much of a big deal. For a bakery that operates out of a shared commercial kitchen, this can be a daunting hurdle. This space is not yours so you’re always setting up and breaking down. You’re also paying by the hour, so you need a way to get in and get out with the same product you made last week.

Agile project management is common across all IT projects, but not in a small bakery. Lean is used in large supply chain driven bakeries, but again not common in a small bakery.
So, I thought one day, why not develop an Agile and Lean framework for my bakery.
In a bakery, everything starts as raw material. Some bakeries buy products pre-made, but at Nerd Bakery we make everything from scratch. From the raw material, it becomes a delicious product. Getting from A to B is the hard part. What happens in-between can either flow flawlessly or burn all your time remaking.
By writing out each step and using Gemba Walk as an observation framework, soon I was able to see ways increase productivity and cut waste.
The biggest time and resource waster was weighing raw material. Once I started weighing all raw material beforehand I saw an increase in productivity by 15%.
The second observation is the need to scale. We bake products to order which normally means small batches. After some observations, I noticed we normally receive the same order 4-5 times a day which means we are starting the same process repeatedly. By scaling our recipes by 4 we can increase our productivity by another 15%. That’s a total of 30% so far!

Next, I wanted to focus on the true meaning of Lean. According to, the definition of Lean is “A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.”
I reviewed some of our sales over the last few months and noticed 88% of the products we have on our online store didn’t sell. So I removed them and replaced them with products people want to buy. I then reviewed the products that did sell well and asked the question, “How Can We Improve?” The answer was to create better product photos and content descriptions.
The moral of the story is it’s important to constantly conduct your own observation and test EVERYTHING. It’s time-consuming and can be costly, but I like to think of it like airplane manufacturers: Testing, Lean and Agile is critical and should be part of your plan every time.

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