This last expedient is the one I most fear, because it is likely to be justified in the name of “lean.” Every recession seems to produce a major cost-cutting campaign sold by traditional consultants. Their key promise is rapid financial payback, even within one quarter, and the only practical way to achieve this is layoffs. I truly hope that the recession of 2009 will not be known to history as the “lean” recession and everyone in the Lean Community should vow to avoid the cost-cutting urge in their own organization.
To avoid the need for cost cutting, I hope that every would-be lean enterprise will assign someone responsibility for developing a “recession A3” that carefully reviews the background situation. The critical step in the A3 process will then be to develop a set of countermeasures that can protect the organization and its people through the current recession while laying the ground work for a sustainable lean enterprise in the future.