Evolution and Future of Lean

I watched this video and learned several discomforting facts:

Oddly, the “Respect for People” principle is absent from the conversation given that “The philosophy that makes [continuous improvement] possible is ‘Respect for People’.

By largely ignoring the “Respect for People” principle for more than 25 years, Womack and Jones have greatly limited the success of the Lean movement. It is not possible to have won if nothing more has been done than to have scratched the surface.

It appears that Lean has barely evolved over the last 25 years. That’s an abnormal condition.

Here is my view of the evolution and future of Lean.

Historical Note:

Scientific management, the antecedent to Lean management, followed a similar path. In the Foreword to the 1947 book Scientific Management: Comprising Shop Management, Principles of Scientific Management, Testimony Before the House Committee (by Frederick Winslow Taylor, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, NY), Harlow Person said (p. xii):

“In the course of his [1912] testimony before the House committee [to Investigate the Taylor and Other Systems of Shop Management], Taylor was asked how many concerns [companies] used his system in its entirety. His reply was: ‘In its entirety – none; not one.’ Then, in response to another question he went on to say that a great many used it substantially, to a greater or less degree. Were Mr. Taylor alive to respond to the same question in 1947 – thirty-five years later – his reply would have to be essentially the same.”

Will we be saying the same thing 10 years from now? I suspect we will if we limit our understanding of Lean leadership to leadership behaviors. Behaviors is only the start. One must comprehend the relationship between beliefs, behaviors, and competencies and, importantly, leadership processes. That’s Lean leadership!

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