A good management-model

We are many people who are concerned with Lean and engaged in spreading this philosophy, both in small and large enterprises, in service institutions and in society at large. Many people may wonder why the development in the use of Lean is so slow, and that so few people use this on a broad scale. We see many small approaches where elements from Lean are presented, and what results have been achieved in an organization. Companies are named lean company of the year and Lean projects are named lean project of the year. But researchers continue to point out that there are only a handful of companies in the West that might call themselves Lean to some extent.

We have heard the story, about Ooba-san who visited a Western company and was asked by the management of the company how Lean he thought the company was. After having been through a tour and a presentation. Ooba-san replied that he could not answer that, since he was not there yesterday. This underlines the central element of Lean. That it is the very dynamics of the daily improvements throughout the organization that define Lean. A successful Lean project in a department, the introduction of some tools in the organization or whiteboard meetings with the follow-up of random improvement suggestions are lean elements at best, and not necessarily the basis for the development of a Lean organization?

Despite the slow development in the use of Lean, we are still many who strongly believe in this philosophy and envision a broad use of it in all companies and throughout our society. Some forces are, admittedly, negative, but the extent the opponents have really inserted themselves into Lean, or have experienced real Lean in practice, may vary? Lean only uses methods from modern research in management, where, admittedly, there is a fundamental precondition in the choice of methods and in their implementation, namely Respect for People. This means that many philosophies, tools and methods are chosen away in Lean because they represent a way of working that does not give respect to the people involved. For example, scorecards are important, but the way we do it and the way we use the scores can mean that people can be motivated through their inner motivation or demotivated through control and attempts at external motivation.

Respect for people is a basic principle that must always be reflected thoroughly on when choosing a method and the way we are going to implement and use it. Here we may often fail in practice. It is important to have good Lean understanding and a good process to follow when introducing Lean.