Lean Quote: Lean is, Quite Simply, the World’s Most Powerful Scientific Management Approach With a Focus on Work as Flow.

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"I will say this again: the only way to generate a profit is to improve business performance and profit through efforts to reduce cost. This is not done by making workers slave away […] or to generate a profit by pursuing low labor costs, but by using truly rational and scientific methods to eliminate waste and reduce cost.  —  Taiichi Ohno

Lean is a collaborative scientific management approach that fosters creativity, innovation and agile organizations. By developing everyone to collaboratively solve problems to the flow of value to customers every day. Everyone engages in observation and experiments to improve flow. Lean management also continuously improves the system within which people work.

The genius of Taiichi Ohno (father of the Toyota Production System) to focus on a truly scientific object of study - flow as energy moving through a system, with few assumptions and that follows robust existing laws and principles - is what sets Lean management apart from others.

Where Taiichi Ohno was truly ahead of his time however, was in creating a collaborative scientific model. In collaborative science, everyone, no matter the level of education or role can collaboratively gather data, analyze data and share learning. What this means in Lean organizations is that the people expending energy to flow value to customers are doing the actual measurements in real time and are best positioned to identify flow problems quickly and engage in controlled experiments in order to improve flow.

Scientific methods used in Lean organizations are varied and include, but are not limited to, experimentation (PDSA or PDCA). The method of observation, for example, is one of the most important to develop in absolutely everyone - not exclusively management - in order to see flow in real time.

The beauty of a scientific management system based on flow is its portability - as long as there is effort expended in a context, Lean applies. This moves Lean way beyond the confines of manufacturing.

Management in a Lean organization is more akin to scientific research management, aligning efforts organizationally with a steady focus on the flow. Developing everyone to be the best at what they do by improving the flow of value to customers in their own work every single day.


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