Executives Must Stop Jumping From Fad to Fad


WSJ.com – In the Lead ($$)

The entire headline is “Executives Must Stop Jumping From Fad to Fad and Learn to Manage.” Amen.

Excellent column in the WSJ saying that we need to avoid being “copycat managers.” The “program of the month” isn't exactly a new concept, it's hardly a groundbreaking idea to rail against that.

“Some ideas, of course, will never go out of style. W. Edward Deming's advice to companies to “drive out fear” so managers can act on what they know, admit what they don't know and change decisions that aren't working, is just one example of an idea as relevant today as when first proposed nearly a quarter of a century ago.

But even in this case, a 1990s reinvention of Mr. Deming's total-quality movement in manufacturing, called Six Sigma, improved efficiency at scores of plants, but couldn't help companies meet another great need — more innovation.”

If you extend the Deming philosophy also to lean (Toyota learned a great deal from Deming), I'd have to question the idea that you can't have innovation with Lean or Six Sigma. Sure, Toyota is a conservative company, but how do you get the Toyota Prius without being able to do innovation?

I'll add some comments about copycat-ing and lean. Sometimes, numbers are published that say “50% of auto suppliers are talking lean, but 2% are doing it” (attributed to Jeff Liker). Why is that? I bet the “talking” lean crew are the copycats.

If your motivation for lean is to be like Toyota or to copy some other company, you're probably doomed. Toyota learned from Ford and others, but what was their motivation? Their motivation was to solve problems they were facing in their business. Kanban, Heijunka, SMED, all of these concepts were created to solve a problem THEY had.

I'd recommend that, if you're trying to do lean, learn from Toyota and learn from companies that have gotten far down the lean transformation path. Then, apply the concepts and tools to your business, to solve problems you have and to eliminate waste that you have.

If you're just copying Toyota because it's trendy or it sounds good or everyone in your industry is going it…. you're bound to give up and move on to the next hot trend.

Please don't do lean because it's trendy. You'll only hurt the reputation of lean and spread this “it didn't work here” malarky.

Please check out my main blog page at www.leanblog.org

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleContinuous "Improvment"
Next articleStandardized Work Templates Question
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.