L.A.M.E. in Advertising


    “L.A.M.E.” is a term I created here on the Lean Blog meaning “Lean As Misguidedly Executed” (it's a forced acronym, I know… but it has stuck).

    I found this on the NWLean list, thanks to Jim, in a post entitled “LAME in Advertising?”

    The January/February 2009 issue of American Tool, Die, and Stamping News has an advertiser written article “Press Builder Shows Stampers How to Maintain a Modern Manufacturing Environment as They Consider New Markets”. This article contains the following sentence “Because of lean operating practices, most companies don't employ an experienced staff that can properly specify equipment.”

    We know from the study of Toyota that the Toyota Production Engineering department includes subject matter experts capable of specifying the equipment they use. Production engineering employs the insights they have learned via Kaizens, downtime data, etc. For a company to eliminate its ability to analyze and determine its equipment needs would likely keep it from minimizing its production costs.

    I wanted to add some commentary… there's nothing “lean” about not having enough experienced employees. There's the colloquial use of the word “lean” – which often means cutting employees without regard to the process. This is different than our use of “Lean Manufacturing” as an operating system.

    Lean, meaning the Toyota Production System, isn't about cutting too much… it's about having the RIGHT number of employees (not too many and not too few). It's also about having the RIGHT skills to get the job done for the customer in a high quality way. It's a shame that the wrong notions about Lean and the TPS get spread in some publications…

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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.


    1. Thanks for posting these “LAME” examples (examples of LAME?). When the media say these sorts of things, they further the idea that lean is all about cost cutting, period. That mistaken notion is going to be the demise of lean, I’m afraid.

    2. I’ve come across lots of these kid of ‘LAME’ examples in my experience.

      Perhaps surprisingly, some of these include assumptions that some facet or another means lean operations will be *more* expensive than traditional methods.

      My theory is that some of the thinking is so different from the received wisdom, that people misinterpret it – either in error or willfully.

      It keeps things interesting for us though, doesn’t it?!


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