When you think about the core attributes of Lean management (i.e. Toyota’s management method), one cannot help but to be impressed:

  • Lean is pragmatic – reality and fact-based.
  • Lean improves communication, cooperation, and enthusiasm for work throughout the enterprise.
  • Lean offers tangible opportunities for everyone to contribute in meaningful ways every day.
  • Problem-solving is localized, rather than centralized in the executive suite.
  • Respecting people, reducing uncertainty, and putting people in control of their work improves human health (that’s why I say “Lean IS healthcare”).
  • Lean is fiscally responsible (cash-rich vs. debt-poor).
  • Lean grows the economic pie, instead of stakeholders fighting over the size of their slice (behavioral waste).
  • There is no better way to lead or manage a business that is engaged in free markets.
  • Eliminating waste, unevenness, and unreasonableness is like cutting taxes. Who doesn’t like lower taxes?
  • Lean contributes to good stewardship of Earth’s resources in ways that are mostly free.
  • Lean results in greater prosperity.
  • Lean, done well, makes you exceptional.

Lean management, led by capable Lean leaders, is great friend to labor and capital alike.

But, there is more. Lean management – understood and practiced correctly – functions as an intelligent safety system. It helps organizations avoid nasty collisions with any stakeholder: customers, employees, suppliers, investors, communities, and even competitors. How does it do that?

  • Lean helps you avoid over-production and under-production.
  • Lean (flow) helps you maintain low costs on a continuing basis.
  • Lean improves information flow, so you get fewer nasty surprises.
  • People trained in Lean can more quickly recognize problems and correct problems, and do so better and less expensively.
  • There are fewer and less severe quality problems, and are they recognized earlier in the process.
  • Lean businesses are not on defense when it comes to profits; they are on offense and thus consistently more profitable.

LSS is actually an abbreviation for “Lean Safety System,” not Lean Six Sigma.

Lean management works for any business and industry. The challenge, of course, is for everyone – CEO on down – to learn Lean through the daily application of its principles and practices, to develop people and improve the management system so that its many benefits grow over time.

2 Responses to What’s Not To Like About Lean?

  1. Jennifer Baker says:

    I was forwarded this Blog by a dear friend. We may live half a world apart, but we share the same passion for Lean Methodology and Continuous Improvement. I love every word shared in this Blog. I have never seen anyone with such an innovative perspective on Lean practices. A practical view is so refreshing.

    The reason I say this is I do consulting using these methods. I often encounter these so called “experts”, and I can see right away, the reason some organizations are completely turned off. They don’t want to implement these principles due to some of the methods these “experts” present to them for many reasons. The use expensive, time consuming, and all to often, unnecessary data collection/ analysis/ testing, often over complicating the Lean Concept. Which causes stakeholders to view it more as problematic than “pragmatic”!

    I do realize that in some cases, a way more technical solution IS necessary. It varies, depending on the issue, and the severity of the issue. But why complicate unnecessarily? The Pioneers of this Philosophy,(Juran, Demming, just to name a few) had no intention for their methods to be only for the “experts”! These principles were intended for use THROUGHOUT any organization, from top to bottom! They were designed to apply to people of all skill levels to easily apply when taught. Not just Engineers, Quality Managers, or “Experts”! This mentality has defeated what these Great Men, Pioneers ahead of their time, worked their entire lives for. Their dedication is meant for ALL to embrace. This almost infuriates me.

    I know that some of these implementations do require more knowledge than others, and I agree that in those instances, a higher level of knowledge/skill set may be required. But pass that knowledge on to others. I know I’m rambling on my soapbox right now, but it was so nice to see Lean presented in a environmental, user friendly, positive way!! People make it seem harder than it is!

    Thank You for this very interesting post. I do hope that many “Experts” read this Blog. I challenge them to step back, and view it simplistically! And not turn every Lean Project they are involved with into some giant, complex, incomprehensible task that only they can try to fix. LEAN IS FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!

  2. Bob Emiliani says:

    Hi Jennifer – Thank you so much for your feedback. I truly appreciate it, and happy that you see my perspective on Lean as innovative. Click here to check out all of my blog posts.

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