Lean Lessons from Pluto


There are certain things we learn while we grow up that are unquestioned – in fact, unquestionable. There are 26 letters in the alphabet, 5 x 5 = 25, there are 4 sides in a square, and there are 9 planets in the solar system.

Until now.

Everyone has heard by now that Pluto is no longer considered a planet. The definition of what is considered a planet, and under the new rules, Pluto no longer applies. This is quick shocking news, although most of us were still able to get out of bed the next day and go about our business. Some can't, and hence the Save Pluto campaign has begun.

What the heck does this tell us about lean? Simply this…


Lean is in part about questioning everything. Why does it have to be that way? Could it be better? Consider some of the things that we hold as dearly as we did that Pluto is a planet. Everyone must have a supervisor. Profit is the best measure of a company's success. Growth is good. Never fire a customer.

Question everything. We used to believe the world was flat, and the earth was the center of the universe. Imagine what becomes possible if you're the first person to challenge this notion.

Question everything. Batting average and fastball speed are the best measures of a players value. In the book Moneyball, the Oakland A's questioned this and developed new ways to evaluate players, and found diamonds in the rough, developing the most efficient team (wins/$ spent) in baseball.

Question everything. What does your organization do that seems silly but it's just always been that way? What happens if you just ask the question? What if asking the question causes 10 others to ask the question? How much of your organization can be unleashed if you just started questioning?


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Jamie Flinchbaugh
Jamie Flinchbaugh is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success spanning finance, manufacturing, automotive, and management consulting. Leveraging extensive operational experience, Jamie is an invaluable asset for a company seeking expert guidance with process improvements, lean strategies, and leadership coaching in order to transform operations, reduce costs, and drive profitability. His areas of expertise include continuous improvement, entrepreneurship, coaching and training, process transformation, business strategy, and organizational design.


  1. Great reminder to think critically.

    In my experience, the arena where nessesary questioning is used the least is in working to solve a specific problem. Too often the problem is accepted as it is presented and we lock ourselves into a limited number of opportunities to work through to a solution.

    Many times when we are able to lift these self-imposed constraints and view the problem differently, the problem can be re-defined and more easily tackled, or even better, eliminated completely.


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