15 Lean Lessons Learned

Going through an old notebook I came across some answers of a question presented at a professional development gathering. The question was “What lessons have you learned from lean events and other continuous improvement activities?” This was a few years ago today I think more in terms of leadership and inspiration as the main drivers for success.

As I reviewed the list they sounded unusually negative although I’m a major proponent of continuous improvement activities. This might be due to the fact I keep a copy W. Edwards Deming’s Out of Crisis next to my computer to remind me we can do so much better. But the same old obstacles of success Deming discussed 20 years ago are still prevalent today primarily the focus on short-term goals. Deming’s book is a must read for any Lean Soldier!

Without further ado here is my list of 15 lean lessons learned in no particular order.

  1. If every lean event is reported as a success then your activity is typically just a dog and pony show of little substance and longevity.
  2. Only individuals responsible for the outcome of activity should lead an event.
  3. Conflicting goals and competing silos are easily identified in lean events but seldom acknowledged or addressed.
  4. Managers with wide (horizontal) experiences rarely have a deep understanding of the business they manage.
  5. Managers with deep (vertical) experience of business rarely search for creative solutions.
  6. Every leader believes they understand lean concepts but rarely adopt them.
  7. Private companies appear more agile and responsive to lean initiatives than public ones.
  8. Investigating the origins of tribal knowledge is much more productive than just dismissing them.
  9. Systems drives results, expected results don’t drive system.
  10. Continuous improvement doesn’t mean perfection.
  11. Maslow”s hierarchy of needs is one of the most infallible business tenets.
  12. Standardization of practices helps immensely.
  13. Quality is free only if you have finance team that understands lean accounting.
  14. Lean is a journey not a destination.
  15. Deming was correct.

These are just some of my lessons learned take a moment and post yours, good, bad or indifferent.




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