My “Approach”


Long ago I fell out of favor with a friend and colleague over my “no nonsense approach” to writing and speaking about Lean management. Many years have now passed. Today, here is what he had to say:

We may have butted heads a couple times in terms of approach, but I have tremendous and deep respect for your research depth and impact on educating the world. And the older I get the more appreciation I have for your direct no-nonsense approach!

— Mr. M

In the decade-plus interim, he was one among the group of many top Lean promoters and influencers who butted heads with me over my “no-nonsense approach” and soon ostracized and blacklisted me.

He is the first to express some regret.

Me, as well as my peers, are now older. Will any others will follow Mr. M?

As I have often explained in my writing, it was (and still is) upsetting and exasperating to see so many people misunderstand Lean and struggle with Lean while the top Lean promoters and influencers did nothing. Of course they knew of all the problems and it was always a topic of conversation in private, but to speak up publicly would have apparently inhibited the good times from keeping on rolling.

This reflects a fundamental lack of “Respect for People” — the customers of Lean, which largely is the professional salaried staff of Lean and continuous improvement professionals. They were accorded neither the respect nor empathy that they deserved.

So I decided to speak on their behalf and said a lot of other things that antagonized the Lean intelligencia — but always very careful to criticize the work, not the person (remarkably, some falsely claim that criticizing the work constitutes an ad hominem attack).

Bob Emiliani is among the few who wrote about what we needed to hear.

Mr. O

Yes, one of the very few, in fact. So how did I end up in this predicament?

Anyone who has studied the history of revolutions could have told us that rebels who aim to overthrow the old order donโ€™t take long to start dressing and acting like the former ruling class.

— Peter Wells

The revolution in consciousness, the mental revolution, the revolution in thinking that Lean management is soon gave way to other, more important individual and organizational concerns. The rebels acquiesced and the revolution fizzled out once again.

Lean Revolution Post

Postscript: In response to this post, I was asked this question: “Because of your work, you’ve fallen out of favor with many people. Does that bother you?”

Answer: No. ๐Ÿ˜ It has always been rocket fuel ๐Ÿš€ for doing what I do. The criticism and lost opportunities is expected given my mission to help others think ๐Ÿง , learn ๐Ÿ“š, and improve ๐Ÿ“ˆ within and beyond the box of “Lean Thinking” and “Lean management.” I sincerely thank you and others who support my work. I truly appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™

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