How to Make Oatmeal (or Lean)… Wrong
Is oatmeal good for you? It generally is…. well, unless it isn't. Oatmeal can lower your cholesterol, is full of whole grains, and on its own isn't sweet (it doesn't HAVE to have tons of brown sugar added in).
This New York Times article, “How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong” points out the nutritional problems with McDonald's oatmeal and fruit offering. Oatmeal purists argue that what McDonald's is doing isn't really oatmeal…
Which reminds me of some of the discussion that we have with Lean.
The NYT writer's description of the McD's oatmeal isn't kind at all:
Yet in typical McDonald's fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they've made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it's also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor”).
A more accurate description than “100 percent natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”
What does marginally nutritious “oatmeal” have to do with Lean?
What is “L.A.M.E.”? In a nutshell, it's anything that a company does in the name of Lean that seems to violate generally accepted Lean principles. If a company's managers are forcing standardized work on people, that violates Toyota's lessons – both older Taaichi Ohno writings and modern day Toyota books that say people should write their own standardized work and that standardized work isn't meant to be overly restrictive.
L.A.M.E. would be efforts to speed up work (rather than reducing waste) so that quality suffers. Forcing workers to put tape around their keyboard in a misguided 5S effort is L.A.M.E., not Lean.
The existence of L.A.M.E. doesn't invalidate Lean (or what Emiliani calls “Real Lean”) any more than McDonald's oatmeal means you shouldn't make honest steel-cut healthy oatmeal at home.