I ask Dan Jones, “What is the future of Lean?” as part of the podcast/transcription: Dan Jones on Lean. Dan is a management thought leader and advisor on applying lean, process thinking to every type of business across the world. He is the founding Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy www.leanuk.org in the UK, dedicated to pushing forward the frontiers of lean thinking and helping others with its implementation.
Dan Jones: A lot of people want to pull Lean in the operational excellence box. And so OK, there’s a bunch of tools for operations folks, and I don’t have to worry about them. If I’m a senior manager, or if I’m in sales or if I’m somewhere else, I don’t have to really worry about them. Well, I think that’s not the true value of Lean at all. The future of Lean is about building a different way, building a management system to support the value creation process. We’ve done a lot of work thinking about what a Lean management system looks like in many different sectors. It is actually a different way of managing collaborative work, both within companies and between companies to create value for customers.
On the one hand, it’s about management. On the other hand, it’s also about rethinking and redesigning new ways of creating value that are now possible given technology, etc. On the other hand, envisioning the design of completely new processes and new business models that will in many cases replace the old ones.
What we’re doing is we’re at the moment still living in the legacy of the assets of mass production, the massive great hub airports, the huge massive central warehouses, the big superstores, the big district general hospitals and so on and so forth, the big postal sorting offices, the big back office headquarters or transaction processing facilities of the banks.
These are all legacies of mass production based upon routine operations and scale. What we’re doing now is designing a completely different business models that are not as asset intensive that are probably more technology intensive or IT intensive and I think open up a completely new ways.
We’re still living with those assets and until they’re depreciated or written off the new models struggle to survive. But I think it is happening. I just think in healthcare we are seeing the beginning of the end of the big district general hospital. I think in retailing we’re seeing the end of the big, big superstores as a way forward. Even Wal-Mart, along with Tesco and many others are now focusing on neighborhood stores, and they’re integrating those with home shopping.
Business models changes, I think, ultimately will come from our understanding or process view of the work, or how we organize the work to solve customers’ problems.
So I think those are two directions. I think the third direction is actually a learning dimension, which is that I think that we’re realizing that the quality movement, and certainly integrate into the Lean movement, taught us not only about the statistical analysis of variance but he taught us also about the value of PDCA ?? plan, do, check, act or some scientific method in solving problems, the closed loop of problem solving method.
I think there are people already beginning to start teaching that in schools, even in primary schools. I think teaching people a different way of thinking about how to solve problems is actually probably going to be one of the major lasting legacies of Lean.
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