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Lean: The New Buzz Concept

By Jamie Flinchbaugh < The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean >

I've read my share of articles on lean, and its no wonder people are confused about what's up and what's down. Here's the latest bit of confusion, from Australia:

Lean: The New Buzz Concept

I don't even know where to begin with how bad this is. I used to carry a magazine cover around with me that showed on the cover “5S Leads to Lean.” After all my harping on how tools do not lead to lean, I was distraught to see people advocating, so prominently, that “do this and you will be lean.” See the cover here, and the corresponding article here. Worse yet, I know the editor and he's a good guy who does his homework, but this missed the mark.

Perhaps its time we expected more from our media on the topic. Why is this important? Because many people receive their education about what's going on and what works through their regular magazines. If they learn the “wrong” stuff, we are all fighting an uphill battle. What can we do? Write to editors and writers. Educate them. Share your reactions. Open the dialogue. Complain, yes, but complain back to those doing the writing so that it gets better.

Who's doing a good job writing about lean? Here are three magazines I believe do a respectable job and digging past the dirt to the real stories.

Assembly Magazine
Manufacturing Engineering Magazine
Target Magazine

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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.

  1. Mark Graban says

    We need to get the Wall St. Journal, Business Week, and the like to understand lean (the Detroit News and Free Press for that matter).

    I struck up a friendship with a business reporter in Austin, still keep in touch. It started with me emailing him in response to a story. He comes to me sometimes with questions related to manufacturing and I try to help him do a better job reflecting manufacturing reality.

    Maybe we all need to “adopt a reporter”??

  2. Anonymous says

    If you want to change public perception and get the message out I would try to “adopt a celebrity” to champion the cause. Less credibility but more effective.

  3. Jamie Flinchbaugh says

    Do you think Angelina Jolie would give up her world hunger cause for the lean cause?

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