My comments on, Take off the Blinders:
I think the question of what other companies have management practices worth studying is interesting. The answer could be very helpful as others could learn from what those companies do. There are at least two difficulties in identifying the: 1) defining what set of criteria would indicate successful organizations 2) most often even companies that are doing many things well leave much to be desired (so picking organizations worth studying can be difficult and even once that is done deciding which practices to credit for the success is often mostly a matter of opinion).
Many organizations do some things very well: Google, Dell, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Grameen Bank, MIT, Gates Foundation global health, Ameritrade, SAS, the Container Store, Home Depot, Apple, Snap-on tools, Wikipedia, McDonald’s. Southwest Airlines does some things very well (shouldn’t they get extra credit for actually being profitable when all around them go bankrupt). Solectron does some things very well, but they have been doing poorly financially for quite some time.
How do we decide what are good organizations? Inventory turns? Profit margin? Growth? Equitable pay for management and workers? Customer satisfaction? An understanding of lean ideas (either with Lean terms or without)? Use of lean tools? Partnering with suppliers? Elimination of waste from processes. Elimination of waste from the entire product cycle? Impact on society? Sales and/or profit per employee? Low employee turnover? Integrity? Providing ever better products and services at ever lower prices?
In some ways looking for organizations using lean ideas (in different situations) and tools seem sensible (how lean ideas are applied in different situations). In others (if you want to find new ideas that might well be adopted by those using lean methods) looking for “excellent” organizations could be helpful.
I think at least two distinct benefits of exploring these ideas. One is finding practices that can be adopted. The second is learning about management practices in organizations and seeing how those practices work within that organizational system.
Most management practices cannot be plugged into any organization and work well. That practice must be applied in a sensible way given the organizational system. Learning how lean ideas (or other good ideas) are applied in varying systems can provide insight into how to integrate ideas for organizational improvement from those applying lean practices.