Sustainability or Meltdown?

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For as many years as I have been blogging here on Lean Execution, I have been increasingly concerned with the sustainability of our economy, business, and government at all levels – locally, nationally, and globally. To this day, these same interests are all struggling to define and establish models that will allow them to recover, sustain, and flourish in the foreseeable future.

The word “meltdown” entered my mind as the summer heat continued to beat down on us over this past week. As we have witnessed over the past few months and years, many governments and businesses alike have collapsed and there are many questions that have yet to be answered.  How did it happen? Was prevention even possible? As I listen to the radio and read the newspapers, I find it interesting that “cuts” are the resounding theme to reduce costs.

I would argue that the real opportunity to reduce costs is to review and identify what is truly essential and then examine whether these products and services are being delivered in the most efficient and effective manner.  I have always contended that there is always a better way and more than one solution with the premise that anything’s possible.

Sustainability requires us to continually and rapidly adapt to an ever-changing environment.  In this context I again find myself turning to the wisdom of Toyota.  “The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement – Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence To Achieve Superior Performance” by Jeffrey K. Liker and James K. Franz is one such resource that is the most recent addition to my library of recommended lean reading and learning.

The economy is extremely dynamic and infinitely variable.  Our ability to sustain and succeed depends on our ability to stay ahead of the curve and set market trends rather than follow them. Apple is one such company that continually raises the bar by defining new market niches and creating the products required to fulfill them.

We also have a social responsibility to ensure that people are gainfully employed to afford the very products and services we provide.  As we consider current employment levels here in Ontario, Canada, and other countries around the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that cutting “jobs” is not a solution that will propel our economy forward.  We must be accountable to create affordable products and services that can be provided and sustained by our own “home based” resources.

Accountability for a sustainable business model requires us to forego future growth projections and deal with our present reality.  Expanding markets are not to be ignored, however, we can no longer use the “lack of growth” as an excuse for failing to meet our current obligations and stakeholder expectations.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics
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2 thoughts on “Sustainability or Meltdown?”

  1. Very insightful post Redge, thank you.
    I completely agree with all you said here.
    Unfortunately, it is hard to convince prospective customers of this.
    Although Applex Management offers a guaranteed ROI to our customers, effectively taking away their financial risk, I had one prospect teling me recently that unless we could convince him we could achieve a 500% ROI in 12 months, he wouldn’t be interested, irrespective of all the other benefits of Lean that I know he’s aare of (because I explained them to him).
    This is an extreme case, but indicative of what we’re up against.

    Onwards & Upwards!

    1. Hi Stephen, yes it can be challenging. It is interesting how prospects respond. For most companies I’ve worked with 500% is easily achieved. I would even counter by saying, my only compensation will be monies saved over the 500% ROI threshold. I wonder what would happen then?

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