Lean Tools and Culture as it Relates to Zen: There is always a big debate on tools and the thinking processes of lean. When you talk about a system, one of the first things that I think of is the tools that are used in the system. I use the tools to make sense out of a system, but I thought that Michael Balle author of The Lean Manager might feel differently with that statement. In the Business901 Podcast I asked him, “How do you relate the tools and the thinking processes of lean?”
Michael responded: “I don’t know if you know this Zen story: when you haven’t studied Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. Then if you really study Zen very hard then you no longer see the mountain as a mountain. But when you understand Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. I feel the same thing about the tools.
When you first study lean, you start with the tools. Then you study it more and you get into something that is about thinking, or philosophy, or whatever. But when you do it a lot, you forget about the tools. I think the tools are essentially very important. However, I have a different take on what the tools mean.
The way I see lean as a management system is essentially a knowledge transfer system; it’s a training system. So what the tools are, the tools to me are self?study exercises to understand your processes better, it’s like a microscope or a telescope. The tool is a way to look into problems and they never solve problems by themselves.
Many people have used the tools or have wanted to implement some sort of solutions to these tools thinking it would make them better. I think that’s kind of beside the point. What makes you better is using the tool rigorously, so you understand your problems, and your own processes and then, with hard work, take the time to figure out how to solve them. It’s this process, it’s the process of solving your own problem that empowers you and which leads you to create better and more performing processes.”
I think the trend right now is to discourage the use of tools and treat Lean as a culture. I believe we are not seeing the mountain. I believe we should be embracing technology. Lean has the best set of tools of any methodology. When used correctly, I think Michael is right and leading with the tools and embracing them will empower us to do greater things. They are meant for us to see deeper, not less. We need to see the mountain again.
When researching, I found the traditional Lean Manufacturing and Service programs. However, I never found one that explained Lean from the outside-in. The way a Sales and Marketing person would view it. If you have taken other programs within the Business901 Members content section, you will find the material repeated in the first month of this program. The Learning Lean Program is based on the outline below:
- Principles of Lean
- SDCA – Standard Work
- PDCA – Continuous Improvement,
- EDCA – Lean Design (Explore)
- Leader Standard Work – Standard Work
- Kaizen & Kaizen Events – Continuous Improvement
- Lean 3P – Lean Design, Product Development
- Mapping – Process, Value Stream, etc.
- Learning A3s
- Hoshin Kanri
Looking for Start-up Instructions for Lean Service Design Trilogy?