Still Missing the Point of Lean

Saw a headline for an article the other day in a local Medical News journal espousing the benefits of Lean Management.  Needless to say, I was excited to see Lean get some press in the local medical community which has been slow to implement the tenants of Lean Thinking.  That is, until I started reading the article…

The opening sentence reinforced to the reader the biggest misperception about Lean out there – it is all about eliminating waste.  Reading on, it all made sense to me that this was the angle the author chose since he’s a CPA from a local Accounting and Consulting firm.  Now I’m not trying bash CPA’s or accounting firms (I used to work for one), or the writer himself – he’s trying to get a lead, make a sale, get someone to call him and his firm for help.  And what better way to get people’s attention than to say you can help them eliminate waste (read as cut costs)?

And while talking about eliminating waste with Lean Management principles may make for quick and easy cocktail fodder, after all, if I cut costs, I will make more money – simple right (not); it is not what Lean is about.

Lean is about Increasing Value with Respect for People.

But this is a much harder conversation.  I mean, when you start talking about increasing value, and what it takes to do that, it can become a deep conversation with a lot of critical thinking skills involved.  And this respect for people thing? You mean you want me to involve the people doing the work in changing the system?  Well, that will take a lot more time and we just don’t have time for anything like that – we need to act now.  Let’s just eliminate waste – that sounds a lot easier! And so it goes…

We need to continue to teach others about what Lean is truly focused on and not take the easy way out.  If all you’re going to do is eliminate waste, don’t call it Lean, call it what it really is – cost cutting.

Let me know your thoughts!



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