Monday, October 19, 2020

Lean Means Don’t Be a Dumb-Ass

By Pascal Dennis

I owe this gem to our friends & colleagues in the great state of Alabama.

Our partners there have a way with words, and a fine appreciation of Lean fundamentals.

Lean is ‘simple’, is it not?
  1. Define Purpose clearly
  2. Make problems visible at all levels
  3. Treat people with respect – team members, customers, suppliers and the community
  4. Involve everybody In problem solving
Lean methods like visual management, standardized work, Help Chains and the like are about making problems visible, so we can fix them.

Once the problem is visible, the countermeasure is often obvious, no?

To be sure, some problems (e.g. Strategic, Design, Supply Chain, machine, information flow etc.) are complex and have multiple causes.

Countermeasures reveal themselves only after much reflection and experimentation. Lean methods enable this process. (Without them we often jump to a dumb-ass ‘countermeasure’)

An old Henny Youngman joke goes like this:

Henny, flapping his arms like wings. “I went to my doctor and told him it hurts when I do this!” Henny makes a face. “The doctor told me, don’t do that!”

Lean methods help us understand what ‘that’ is, so we can fix it.

Our challenge is that we often learn dumb-ass things in college and in dysfunctional organizations. Things like, let’s hide our problems, let’s brutalize our team members, let’s try to hoodwink our customers, and the like.

The truth will out.

Don’t be a dumb-ass.

Best regards,


PS Andy & Me and the Hospital, describes how not to be a dumb-ass in healthcare.

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Lean – So ‘Easy’, It’s Hard
“Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”
Building Quality into the Process
Standardized Work for Knowledge Workers

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