“Lean? What’s that???” … is the most frequent response to “Hello, I’m a Lean practitioner.” Why?!
Why is Lean such an unkown when it works so well for so many companies in such a broad range of industries? Is Lean part of your business vocabulary? Toyota developed the original approach in the 40’s, and although it wasn’t popularized until the early 90’s that’s still over 20 years in popular use – so we can’t claim it’s new and yet to be discovered. Multinational corporations like GE, Pepsi, Nike, Amazon and every single auto manufacturer (except Tesla) have made it part of their DNA so it has both credibilility and exposure – and these companies generally insist that their suppliers and business partners also implement Lean, so it goes well past the OEM or top-tier companies.
I will admit that Lean wasn’t on my radar – at least not as a formal thing until about 10 years ago. My employer’s parent company had a robust quality system and I was tackling meaty problems with my shiny Six Sigma Black Belt, but Lean wasn’t a thing where I worked, nor any company I had worked for in the past. It took a financial crisis and the recommendation from a high-priced consulting firm (Porsche Consulting) for us to discover Lean.
So my colleagues and I drank the cool-aid, and discovered Lean was remarkable. Simple yet effective. And highly configurable – regardless of our business process we could use Lean tools to make it better.
So what’s holding other companies back? Lean isn’t a fad or a wild claim of instant success or cure-all for every possible business challenge – but it is a rationale, proven, cultural shift supported by dozens of effective tools and techniques employed by thousands of companies around the globe. Maybe it just needs a marketing agent.
So here is what I’m doing for my corner of the world: I’m writing a book about it. A Wealthy Barber-style business novel to introduce people to Lean. I want to share what I know so others can see what this approach can do for their business, their employees and their customers.
If you’re interested in a copy – just shoot me a message. Help me spread the word. As the new Lean Marketing agent, your (business-related) happiness is my reward.