A Washington DC Lean Tour: Part 3 — FDR


Here is part #3 of our DC lean tour, having already visited the National Museum of American History.

I already have one Presidential quote that is somewhat lean related. I use it in the context of management needing to go visit the “gemba” (actual place, usually the shopfloor) to see what is really going on.

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Now I think he was criticizing the old Soviet centrally-planned economy, but the same quote could apply to Washington leaders today and even the execs of our manufacturing companies.

Here is a second quote now, one I saw at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial.

“No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order.”

Now, FDR was talking about unemployment and the Great Depression. But think about the quote in the context of lean and your organzation. Lean and TPS teach us to respect all employees and to help get the most out of the ability, both for the sake of the organization and for their own personal development and satisfaction. I'd argue that UNDERemployment, meaning that people aren't getting to contribute fully, is hurting most companies. Underutilization of the brainpower in our organization costs us an immeasurable amount each year.

Maybe we could re-tool the quote to read::

“No company, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast underutilization is our greatest extravagance. Morally it is the greatest menace to our organizations.”

What do you think?

Move on next to Stop #4 on the DC Lean Tour

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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.


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