Getting Lean Right, and Getting References Right

Quite some time ago, I wrote an article titled Getting Lean Right. I included a quote from someone which I did not have a reference for. I thought it was an important point to share, but I recently got an email from someone who either knew or found the referenced and provided me this information. I only thought it appropriate to share it here. This is from Daniel Crepin from France:

I just read your fine article where you wrote “Someone, who if I knew who it was I would be happy to give credit, said wisely: “experience is not what you’ve been through; it’s what you take from it.”

Well, Aldous Huxley wrote these profound words in “Texts and pretexts” (1932): “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

I’m sure the quote has morphed over time, hence my different version of it. But the premise of this idea is absolutely essential to lean. Too many companies go about the change process with their existing ideas and knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Lean is about using each and every opportunity to test and improve that knowledge. Make sure you learn everything possible from the experiences that you are fortunately enough to have.

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Jamie Flinchbaugh is a lean advisor, speaker, and author. In addition to co-founding the Lean Learning Center, he has helped build nearly 20 companies as either a co-founder, board member, advisor, or angel investor. These companies range from high-performance motorcycles to SaaS tools for continuous improvement. He has advised over 300 companies around the world in lean transformation, including Intel, Harley-Davidson, Crayola, BMW, and Amazon. Jamie co-authored the popular book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, and continues to share his experiences as a Contributing Editor forIndustryWeek and as a blogger at He holds degrees from Lehigh University, University of Michigan, and MIT, and continues to teach and mentor on campus. Jamie is best known for helping to transform how we think about lean from a tools-centric model to one based on principles and behaviors. His passion for lean transformation comes from seeking to unlock the great potential that people possess to build inspiring organizations.

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