Here’s a terminology question:
When somebody evaluates a situation and says “such and such practice doesn’t seem very lean,” I sometimes cringe. Why? Because I don’t like Lean? No, not at all.
I’d rather hear things discussed and evaluated in terms of waste and value. “Such and such practice involves too much waste of motion” would be a better statement. That seems like more of a factual statement. There is waste. “Lean” or “Not Lean” sometimes seems like too much of a judgment call with room for interpretation. One risk is that we start defining bad practices (full of waste) as “Lean” and then Lean becomes this amorphous term that losing meaning.
Another risk, I think, is that people are doing what seems “Lean” or what they think is “Lean” based on a desire to make the boss (who says Lean is good) happy instead of a desire to eliminate waste or increase value to the customer.
Lean, as a set of principles and mindsets, is incredibly helpful. But, I think we need to be careful our terminology is based around “doing Lean.”
What do you think? Too nit picky?
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to post a comment. Click here to receive posts via email.
Now Available – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can buy the book today, including signed copies from the author.