Hands off those tools

If you choose to apply Lean thinking in your organisation you will need to apply some tools. Tools such as Statistical Process Control, Value Stream Mapping, Pareto charts etc. All useful, all to be handled with care.

Lean is not tools.

If you think you can learn some tools and some fancy words and “do” lean, you are in for a big shock. Again…

Lean is not tools.

It is not kanban. It is not heijunka. It is not Value Stream Mapping.

Lean is a way of thinking. Lean is a view of how work is done. Lean says, “How can we reduce the waste in this work and make the value steps flow?”. Lean does not say, “Woo-hoo!! Loads of tools and techniques, lets splatter them across the organisation.”

If anyone ever says to you, “In order to implement Lean here, we need to teach everyone, A, B, C…” Ditch them.

Also, training in Lean is not being Lean. Lean is something you are, something you do. You learn by doing, not by sitting in a training room. And, at the risk of losing both my readers, it is not something you learn off the internet, even in a brilliant blog like this one!!

You must understand when and why to apply a tool or technique. Ask yourself, “Will this let me see/remove/understand waste or flow?” If the answer is “no” or “not sure” then don’t do it. And if you do do it, try it in a small way or for a short time to see if you get any benefit and if you don’t get benefit or understanding, then stop.

Lean is about application of principles. All the tools grow out of the principles. But they should only be used when you understand the principle that they are assisting you with.

It is not easy. The tools are very seductive.

Best,

Rob

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