What’s Not To Like About Lean?

When you think about the core attributes of Lean management (i.e. Toyota’s management method), one cannot help but to be impressed:

  • Lean is pragmatic – reality and fact-based.
  • Lean improves communication, cooperation, and enthusiasm for work throughout the enterprise.
  • Lean offers tangible opportunities for everyone to contribute in meaningful ways every day.
  • Problem-solving is localized, rather than centralized in the executive suite.
  • Respecting people, reducing uncertainty, and putting people in control of their work improves human health (that’s why I say “Lean IS healthcare”).
  • Lean is fiscally responsible (cash-rich vs. debt-poor).
  • Lean grows the economic pie, instead of stakeholders fighting over the size of their slice (behavioral waste).
  • There is no better way to lead or manage a business that is engaged in free markets.
  • Eliminating waste, unevenness, and unreasonableness is like cutting taxes. Who doesn’t like lower taxes?
  • Lean contributes to good stewardship of Earth’s resources in ways that are mostly free.
  • Lean results in greater prosperity.
  • Lean, done well, makes you exceptional.

Lean management, led by capable Lean leaders, is great friend to labor and capital alike.

But, there is more. Lean management – understood and practiced correctly – functions as an intelligent safety system. It helps organizations avoid nasty collisions with any stakeholder: customers, employees, suppliers, investors, communities, and even competitors. How does it do that?

  • Lean helps you avoid over-production and under-production.
  • Lean (flow) helps you maintain low costs on a continuing basis.
  • Lean improves information flow, so you get fewer nasty surprises.
  • People trained in Lean can more quickly recognize problems and correct problems, and do so better and less expensively.
  • There are fewer and less severe quality problems, and are they recognized earlier in the process.
  • Lean businesses are not on defense when it comes to profits; they are on offense and thus consistently more profitable.

LSS is actually an abbreviation for “Lean Safety System,” not Lean Six Sigma.

Lean management works for any business and industry. The challenge, of course, is for everyone – CEO on down – to learn Lean through the daily application of its principles and practices, to develop people and improve the management system so that its many benefits grow over time.

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