Now, change the story of your industry
The deep purpose of lean thinking is to benefit society by growing sustainable and profitable companies that continuously strive to satisfy their customers more completely.
The trick to doing this is to focus every person in the company in figuring out what “better” means from their customers point of view, both external customers and internal customers – the next guy or gal in the process chain – and then to discover what “working better” means in their own jobs.
The true aim of lean is to support every one in writing their own story – their own personal development in their expertise, their personal development in their ability to work with colleagues, particularly across borders- and in doing so to contribute to write the story of the organization as a whole.
What lean is not is imposing on people corporate’s story so that everyone can be a human machine repeating the same standard memes. There are no roadmaps in real lean, only kaizen. (I should know, this was the first real shock I received when studying how Toyota worked with a supplier 20 years ago, and I was there when the idea of “roadmaps” was invented: it worked spectacularly to capture knowledge and never worked as a deployment tool. Not once.)
As the company learns to learn, leadership figures out what deep problems they have to solve for customers and employees, and teams figure out how to solve them in new, innovative ways. This knowledge, once explored in many different circumstances and conditions, becomes reusable knowledge.
Reusable knowledge then has the potential of changing the story of the company’s industry:
- From “in this industry, the only way to do this is…”
- To “in this industry, we’ve shown repeatedly that we could to it this new way…”
The true purpose of lean is to show how the story of entire industries can be changed, just as Toyota has changed the story of the automotive industry. I remember when the industry’s story was about “programmed obsolescence”, now it is about quality. Then the story of the industry was about gas guzzling, now it’s about energy performance and low emissions (sorry, VW). Now the story of the industry is, hey, accidents happen, tomorrow the story is going to be car-assisted driving.
My father, Freddy changed the story of manufacturing by showing how TPS successfully applied outside Toyota. We’re still working out what he figured out long ago.
Don’t let corporate or consultants take control of your story. The magic in lean lies in the kaizen with your team and the suggestions you bring to the party. Our common purpose is to increase the flow of ideas to find new ways to solve present problems and change the story of our entire industry!
Financial success is not an end, it’s a mean to reinvest. Growth is not an end, it’s a mean to reach more people. Think big thoughts. Change the story. Change the world.