We Labelled some stuff, that’s lean, right?

Erm… no. Wrong. Now before I go on to give a better outline. I must say to the person who said this to me. I like you and don’t be angry I quoted you albeit anonymously. 

I hear this a lot and I mean a lot. People mistake application of a lean tool here and there as “doing and “being” lean. I can say honestly it is better than doing nothing for sure but it is definitely not lean.

So what is lean? Well from my view which I expect is well aligned with those who are much more sage like than I is that lean is about constantly striving to be a more productive organisation. Respecting your firm’s resources in order to deliver the maximum amount of value to the customer. Then the following day, trying to deliver more!

I think it is important for people to remember this and prioritise understanding this concept before anything else. See my previous post on the topic. If we keep this in mind it helps to drive the correct behaviours from the top to the bottom of the organisation, every day. And that must be a good thing.

The frustrating part of working with this is the general lack of understanding or “buy-in” we can face. I recently was talking to a friend who was moaning about how his engineers do not have time to do all the work at his customer than he would like them to do. He was begging his customer to pay for a third full time onsite engineer. Obviously the customer refused as my friend could not show the benefit of the third person. His mind was in the state that the only solution to getting things better was to add resources. In order to try and get him to think differently I asked him, how was he respecting his two engineers who were currently onsite full time? His response was typical, that he paid them. We discussed this at length. After a resolution of views we then turned to more practical means. What do the two current guys do at the moment. What value are they adding to the customer. I suggested he breakdown the work they do into value and none value added time to the customer. We could then focus on the waste. I am waiting for the results and we will see how it goes!

I will continue the story above as it develops as I think it will be an interesting learning for my friend with some good reflections. 


To conclude this post, please take a more principled look at lean and not focus on the tools. They are the mean to the end which is not to be lean but to be always striving to be more lean than you were yesterday.