Leading Lean One Heart at a Time


Another month has rolled by whch means Assembly Magazine has released another excellent issue of their magazine, of which I am very pleased to contribute. This month, in my Leading Lean column, I tackle the issue of “convincing” those around you, which is also a topic of an upcoming podcast discussion with Mark Graban here on LeanBlog.org. We want to expand the club of those who “get” lean. Unfortunately, wheh it looks too much like a club from the outside, with high barriers to entry, it's own language and something just short of a secret handshake, it makes it very hard for others to want to join. We have to make it easier, which means understanding the perspective of those we're trying to convince, lowering the barriers to entry and at the end of the day, giving up some of the control that comes with having a small “club.” Read more on the subject in Leading Lean: One Heart at a Time and stay tuned for an upcoming podcast that begins to address this important topic. I already know that Mark has worthwhile comments on the subject, and perhaps he could share some of them here. We've also found this topic so important that we have giving it serious attention in our new course, Leading Lean, which debuts publically next March.

For now, signing off [insert secret handshake here] – Jamie Flinchbaugh

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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. Good column, Jamie. I’ll probably post our podcast discussion in about a week or so, on the topic of how to educate leadership about lean.

    I agree with you that we, as leaders or consultants, have an obligation to convince others of the value of lean. We should expect anyone to accept it because we say so or because everyone else is doing it. People who accept lean without thinking it through can be more dangerous than those who reject it initially. The people who reject lean initially, you have more of a chance of getting them to think through lean and to accept it in a productive and sustainable way.

    I always talk to clients about the “What’s In It for Me?” factor (WIIFM?). For each and every individual in the organization, there is a WIIFM regarding lean. Rather than using the excuse of “people hate change” we need to think about the WIIFM and think about how to lead them to see lean as a positive for them individually and for the organization, their customers, etc.

    I have a long-simmering blog post about this, but I *hate* the “people hate change” excuse. I should write that post soon.

  2. Great column Jamie. Will this be a regular feature in Assembly Mag?

    To get our message across, it’s a given that we must know our stuff and be prepared to convey a complex subject in a few seconds or minutes. Buidling on your comment about showing passion – I’ve found that this makes a real impact and diferentiaties the top professionals like Mark and you from the rest. I often share my “Let me tell you why I’m here” story that lets people know that I’m not in it just for the money, but to make a real difference for their people and management.

  3. Thanks, Mark. I think when it’s sincere (as I think it is in my case), people are indeed glad to know that you’re “there to help” and you’re not just collecting a paycheck. If folks are cynical about that, all you can do is demonstrate it over time.

    You’re right to mention “why we’re here”, not just “what we’re doing.” There are many great lean/Toyota stories I’ve heard about taking the time to explain WHY and how important that is.


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