Almost everything I read or learned suggests that lean was never intended to be complicated. The simplest definition of lean I have read to date follows:
Focus on what matters and eliminate what doesn’t
This is not to suggest that lean is easy. In actual practice I find that some companies have sufficiently compounded the definition of lean to exclude all but a select team of employees.
I contend that lean is an all inclusive initiative based on the simple premise that we can always find a better way.
As suggested by our definition of lean above, the ability to discern what matters from what doesn’t is the most fundamental step to any lean initiative.
As I discussed in “Discover Toyota’s Best Practice“, improvements are seldom the result of a single action or countermeasure. Rather, in the context of lean, innovations are the culmination of numerous improvement initiatives over time.
I become increasingly concerned where a lean culture is compromised by infrastructure, policies, systems, and procedures that inherently frustrate improvement initiatives.
This reflects one of my qualms with six sigma where an implied hierarchy is created by virtue of the “belt” or level that a person has achieved. The approach is intentionally “exclusive” by virtue of education, experience, and / or proven expertise. As such, people are inherently disqualified from the process.
Quite simply, don’t create an environment that alienates your team to the extent that lean is beyond reach by design.
Until Next Time – STAY lean!