Why This Startup Intends to Always Stay Lean

This post was written by Social Tables’ VP of Finance, Scott Sehon.


At Social Tables, one of our nine core values is, Stay Lean.

What does that even mean? Well, if you Google “how to stay lean”, the majority of the results are related to fitness and weight management. While we are conscious that our office pantry is filled with healthy snacks, and we do have sporting clubs for our health-focused associates, 6 pack abs are not what Stay Lean means to us.

In truth, our Stay Lean approach to business is more financial than physical. We are ever vigilant to prevent figurative weight issues from creeping into our culture. As a company we work tirelessly to stay lean and efficient with not only with our finances, but also with our time and barriers.

To promote our Stay Lean core value, March was Lean Awareness Month at Social Tables. Back in 2014, Lean Awareness Month saw company snacks disappear from the kitchen for an entire month (even the healthy ones). While that campaign promoted both financial and physical leanness, this March we decided to take a more educational approach for our team by instituting two initiatives: group research projects and the Lean Tabler Challenge.

Group Research Projects

To accomplish this, we split the entire company into small groups, and each of them was assigned one of ten lean awareness topics to research, which they would ultimately present to the entire company.

For groups to research their projects, we eliminated all barriers and opened our books to employees – transparency is a key aspect of our culture, and that includes financial clarity.

In fact, groups were encouraged to ask the finance department for information that many companies may view as sensitive or guarded.

To ensure that groups were lean and efficient with their time, each was given just 2 minutes to present their results to the company. Here is a snapshot of some of the questions and results that the teams delivered.

  • Project: What is the economic impact that Social Tables’ hiring has made on the DC metro area?
    • Result: Social Tables employees have an estimated monthly impact on the Washington D.C. economy of $570,000.
  • Project: How much money has Social Tables saved by doubling up rooms during conference trips?
    • Result: Social Table saves $13,000 per year through employees sharing hotel rooms at conferences. This is enough to pay for two full time summer interns so we can find the next great talent.
  • Project: How much money has Social Tables saved by hiring through referrals, word of mouth, and inbound (as opposed to recruiters and outbound)?
    • Result: Social Tables has saved the equivalent of $600,000 in recruiting fees by aggressively pursuing job candidates through business networks, personal referrals, and inbound candidate applications
  • Project: What is the estimated cost of leaving lights on in unused meeting rooms all day?
    • Result: It would cost Social Tables $260/month if we left the lights on in all of our conference rooms 24/7.
  • Project: What is the cost of keeping the Social Tables office pantry fully stocked with snacks and drinks?
    • Result: Social Tables spends an average of $.88/employee/day for office drinks and snacks

Lean Tabler Challenge

To further encourage and promote our lean culture, we decided that, starting in March, each month a “Lean Tabler” award would be bestowed upon the employee(s) who went above and beyond expectations to Stay Lean.

What constitutes winnable behavior? Here’s an example from our March winners:

Two Tablers went out of town for a 3-day business trip, where instead of a hotel room or an expensed dinner, they slept on friend’s couch and purged their fridge. These Tablers also saved on car rental/cab costs by borrowing on of their Mom’s cars.

While that true and extremely impressive example of Staying Lean is by no means mandated conduct, it is no less exciting to see employees proud of what they do each and every day to make Social Tables a lean and efficient operation.

It makes my job as VP of Finance easier knowing that the entire company is aligned behind and dedicated to our Stay Lean core value.

I’ve stayed lean by submitting a 665 hundred word blog post, when I was allotted 750 words. However, if a picture truly speaks a thousand words, here are nine thousand more words to show you how to Stay Lean within the Social Table Offices.PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage2


Has your company instituted at Stay Lean policy of their own? If so, we’d love to hear your ideas – shoot me an email if you’d like to share!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: