I was interviewed today by a reporter today who is doing a story on Lean.
We talked about Lean being adopted in various industries and settings.
He asked a very interesting question, basically:
“Has Lean ever been fully implemented and not worked?”
No organization that's really embracing and practicing Lean would ever say they're “done” with “implementing” Lean. Culture change is hard. Nobody is ever perfect. All organizations that many would label as “Lean” are going to be continuously re-inventing and improving themselves.
There ARE organizations that have given up on Lean. I wrote about one earlier this year, related to a hospital that had a new CEO kill their Lean program for unknown reasons:
If an organization reaches the conclusion that “Lean didn't work here,” we'd have to ask why.
Did they think “Lean” meant just running a bunch of projects? Did they just train and certify front line staff on Lean tools and tactics?
If so, I would expect that they wouldn't get outstanding results.
I'm full of questions… so I'd also ask:
Were they not engaging everybody in continuous improvement?
Were they not managing differently at all levels?
Were they not trying to changing the culture?
Were they not adopting the Lean philosophy?
The writer had asked about scenarios involving engineers, staplers, and managers forcing them to put tape around their staplers… I've blogged about situations like that before and that sounds like a “Lean Failure” in the making to me.
One previous post (and read more about what I call “L.A.M.E.“)
I tried making a parallel… not that I'm practicing yoga or veganism.
Imagine if somebody said they started practicing yoga and became a vegan.
It's possible that person might GAIN a bunch of weight and become LESS healthy.
We'd have to ask “why?”
What if they were just laying on the ground and stretching a bit? Is that really yoga?
Maybe they were avoiding meat, cheese, and milk, but were eating a lot of sugar and processed foods? Is that really being a good vegan?
Would that person give up and say “I tried yoga and being a vegan and it didn't work”??
Would we, as observers, criticize yoga and vegan? Would we say those methods are bad? That they don't apply to some people?
Or would we say, “They probably didn't really learn properly about yoga and veganism”? Would we say, “It's a shame they didn't have a good yogi or nutritionist to help them”?
What do you think about my answers to that question and that analogy?
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: