From Lean Tools to Lean Management

From lean tools to lean management by Jim Womack:

The attraction of tools is that they can be employed at many points within an organization, often by staff improvement teams or external consultants. Even better, they can be applied in isolation without tackling the difficult task of changing the organization and the fundamental approach to management. I often say that managers will try anything easy that doesn’t work before they will try anything hard that does, and this may be a fair summary of what happened in the Tool Age

Teach all managers to ask questions about their value streams (rather than giving answers and orders from higher levels). Turn these questions into experiments using Plan-Do-Check-Act.

Only management by science through constant experimentation to answer questions can produce sustainable improvements in value streams. ( Toyota’s A3 is a wonderful management tool for putting science to work.)

He is right. The tools are useful. The much more significant changes are in the management suite not on the shop floor (or cubicle farm). Even on the shop floor there is room for huge amounts of improvement. In the c-suite I don’t know how to explain the amount of work left to do. Lets say this – there is much much much more improvement left to do than has been done so far.

Related: articles by Jim WomackDeming on Management

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