I had a sort of epiphany this morning during commute.
Lean isn’t, or shouldn’t, be transmitted or taught about improving performance or best to achieve performance.
The recent history of Lean seems to me to have gone through the following steps, which, in my mind, mirror the approaching of the WHY center circle of Simon Sinek.
Whats of Lean were the first to be taught (probably because they were the easiest to spot and understand inside Toyota plants) – and is still probably the main line of teaching Lean. Incidentally, these were those Taiichi Ohno warned us against:
- Results: is orientated toward increasing performance of the company
- Teaching of Lean: based mostly on using tools
Hows of Lean saw the beginning of a change in how Lean is transmitted:
- Results: are sought through people and therefore “Respect” comes again to the fore (which it should never have left anyway)
- Teaching of Lean: centered on how you achieve results (through people), that solutions come from them, not from the sensei. I think the epitome for this is the great “Toyota Kata” approach to teach Lean from Mike Rother.
Whys of Lean is when executives understand there’s really something more to improving a company, and that “respect for people” really is meant for more than mere words:
- Results: are about contributing to something bigger than the company
- Teaching of Lean: Lean is about making people flourish both inside and outside the company
Funnily, the more you advance in how you see Lean (according to the preceding three steps), the less you speak about Lean stuff and more about personal and organizational purpose.
Of course, I can’t end this post without this famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.“
Simon, I bow before you…