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NIH = "Not Invented Here"

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean

I believe that NIH, or Not Invented Here, is one of the silliest cultural barriers to progress. What we're basically saying is that there are good ideas out there, ideas that we can use, but because they came from others we're not going to use them.

In this month's Assembly Magazine, I wrote my Leading Lean column on NIH, which you can find here. Of course, the most direct was to overcome NIH is to not be guity of it ourselves. As I've said many times, lean begins with you! But we need use every means we can to rid our organizations of NIH. In the column, I share a couple of stories of how people have overcome NIH. I would like to hear your strategies, ideas, tips, and tricks for how you have overcome NIH in your organization. Please share your stories in the comments. Thank you. And I encourage everyone to steal those ideas shamelessly. Don't NIH enter this conversation.

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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. Anonymous says

    Good thoughts; but remember to reinforce a means to get these ideas out to others. I especially like the idea of asking your peers “What have you learned about and adopted from other sites (or areas outside your own business environment)?

    Recently in discussions at our church, on how to reach out to others, when we provided a means for people to share their ideas openly; it was amazing how many good ideas were suggested.

    Let’s downplay the person that ran across homeplate; and celebrate those that made the game possible.

    Thanks for pulling together so many good ideas into a real helpful article.

    Humantech, Inc.

  2. Craig Henderson says

    The questions we ask limit the answers we find.

    Your article highlights how a CEO can tap into unrealized potential simply by asking a new question – “What ideas have you learned about and adopted from other sites in the company?” I can certainly see how that question would accelerate the transfer of ideas from one department or business unit to another. Thank you for highlighting this very efficient countermeasure to NIH.

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