Addendum to Census of Manufacturers


I have something else to add to my earlier post on the state of lean through the eyes of an Industry Week survey. My point is this: we don't know what to call this stuff, and at the same time, we spend too much energy trying to rename it.

I'll be straight: I think when John Krafcik coined the term “lean,” it was a mistake. I couldn't have done any better, but lean is all about LESS, when lean is about less of some things and more of others. Because of the connotation of the word takes us down the road of less people, less other stuff, it is often misunderstood and misapplied. That being said, it's what we've had for almost 20 years. It's not realistic to think that all of industry will come together and make a uniform AND simple decision to change the word.

When someone asked me when we were starting the Lean Learning Center why we didn't use a different term, considering how many bad versions of lean were out there, and my response was that it is more important to shift the understanding of lean to something more productive.

I don't mind a little disharmony in what terms we use. My big problem is making up new ones, such as Lean Sigma and the latest one I heard, “Kai-Sigma” which is some play on combining kaizen and six sigma. That one actually got me mad. Let's focus on ideas, not words. OK, end rant, on to more productive things.

Please check out my main blog page at

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 articleCensus of Manufacturers
Next articleYou Can’t Turn Customers Away, Can You?
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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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