The Term "L.A.M.E." is Spreading

Last year, in a fit of creativity, I coined the awkward term “L.A.M.E.” — Lean As Misguidedly Executed or, alternatively Lean as Mistakenly Executed.

Either way, the “Lean vs LAME” construct is easier to swallow than the spelled out acronym. I still haven’t come up with anything better – suggestions?

It’s strange, and I guess somewhat gratifying to see the term referenced or even used without attribution — at least it’s out there… First reference last week, from another blog:

Two fun bits – Knowledge Jolt with Jack

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Mark Graban at the Lean Blog had LEAN or LAME about a week ago in which he rightly complains that all the “LEAN doesn’t work” stories seem to be about mis-implementations of LEAN (which frequently become LEAN = “less employees are needed”). He’s come up with LAME: “LEAN as Misguidedly Executed” but that sounded lame, so he asked his readers for help. One created “Lacking Any Management Ethics,” which may be a bit harsh. [via On Pharma]

I like the sense of the complaint. It’s easy to blame the method, when it is the implementation. The struggle with many improvement efforts is that if there is no follow-through, it often looks like the method is at fault. Do this enough times at a company, and EVERY method appears to be wrong. Maybe it’s not the methods…

I also saw the term referenced in the latest print issue of IndustryWeek, where they print excerpts from their online forums.

Seen any sightings of the term, or sightings of “L.A.M.E.” out there?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Tom Southworth says

    Sometimes, Mark, what I’ve seen are teams who go just through the motions, as if they collectively said to each other Let’s All Meander Endlessly. People walking around, shaking their heads (‘Oh my, we have to fix that!’), wagging their fingers, making pretty PowerPoint presentations, and getting absolutely nothing done.

  2. Anonymous says

    Jim Womack’s latest email missive makes a similar point, that in this slowing economy, all sorts of unfortunate stuff will get the “lean” label.

    “I am therefore hoping that members of the lean community will speak out loudly whenever they see activities being labeled as lean that are only mean.”

    You did just that in your last post about Dell, so bravo.

  3. Karen Wilhelm says

    Mike Thelen referred to L.A.M.E. in one of the SME e-newsletters last year, with attribution to Mark.

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