Recently, I talked to somebody. She told me that she had to give a presentation about Lean working on a secretary department. My interest was raised, so I asked her: “great, what did you tell the board?”. Her reply was, that she told the board that they were performing outstanding, by mixing up Agile (project management), Prince II ™, Lean and Six Sigma and calling this “Lean”. I was genuinely shocked.
For me, Lean is not only a way of working, but also of thinking and living. To avoid waste is not the only goal of Lean, as any Lean practitioner will know. To raise profits by excluding all that doesn’t add value, that is Lean. To instruct not only your employees, but live and work it yourself. To see the value stream (and what doesn’t add value). To be on the floor.
I asked this lady why she exactly praised the board, for I did not understand. She told me that a mixture of this and that is working Lean. When I told her that this is not the case, that Lean is a very well through-thought set of tools, it felt she looked at me with blank eyes. In her vision, or so she said, messing up methods can be Lean as well.
This bothered me, yes, but what bothered me more was that she told me the board of the company thought they were working Lean. Because if this is the future of Lean, those people are going to kill it. I hope it will not go this way. Somehow, I am afraid it will.