Do “Lean,” Not “Fake Lean”

Fake Lean (1)

Bob Emiliani makes an important point about “lean” practices. Many managers don’t understand them, and many employees fear them because they view continuous process improvement as a way to “improve” themselves out of a job.

Most leaders think progressive management is a more effective way to cut costs and lay people off. The purpose of progressive (Lean) management is the exact opposite: to grow[] and improve, and to do so in ways that do not cause harm to the people in the organization or to any of its stakeholders (suppliers, customers, investors, and communities). Lean, and the pursuit of flow, must do no harm. If it does, then that is Fake Lean.

To combat employee fears, those adopting Lean practices must publicly and authentically commit to the idea that no employee will be fired as a result of Lean transformation. They must convey to team members that the reason for adopting Lean is to empower a team to develop better processes, to unleash creativity and innovation by challenging the way things have been done in the past.

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