Five things Lean is not

Five things Lean is NOT
Lean and Lean Six Sigma are time-tested strategies that increase the excellence of business operations to the delight of customers. However, sometimes organizations struggle with implementing Lean because they see it as something it is not. Below are five common perceptions people have about Lean that just ain’t true.
  1. Lean is NOT headcount reduction. To fire employees as the result of a Lean improvement will destroy your Lean transformation efforts on the spot. Organizations must prepare for and find use for freed-up capacity. Less waste means more capacity to satisfy and delight customers, not layoffs!
  2. Lean is NOT a bunch of tools. Organizational members must learn the tools and techniques used in Lean to be successful. However tools are secondary to understanding the underlying principles and thinking. Deciding when to use a specific tool is easy when the principles are understood.
  3. Lean is NOT a program. Consultants, managers, and the quality departments cannot “do Lean” to people and expect it to work. Lean is a journey the organization’s leaders embark upon with their people, it cannot be delegated.
  4. Lean is NOT done from the office. Classroom training is essential, but the real impact comes from leaning and doing. Doing happens in the place we call Gemba (the place of actual work). Kaizen events and other Lean methods take place in the Gemba, not from the conference room.
  5. Lean is NOT just in manufacturing. Yes, Lean was born in the manufacturing industry, but today Lean is applied in across many industries to include healthcare and service. Improving processes is not limited to any one industry.

Lean is powerful and awesome, when used correctly. As Lean Six Sigma practitioners we must be aware of some of the stereotypes and pitfalls that exists concerning Lean implementation. We must be ready to enlighten those who don’t fully understand the power of the dark side…ummmm, I meant Lean – the power of Lean. Sorry my inner Star Wars geek came out.

May Lean be with you, Erik