there for a purpose, not an end in themselves.
Like Michelangelo chipping away all marble that
was not David, so Lean tools are there to chip
away everything that does not enhance value for
the customer. For a while, a pure tools approach
is not a bad thing. Like Michelangelo’s original
marble block, a lot can be removed with little
skill. Then came Lean through Principles – often
the 5 Lean Principles of Womack and Jones, or
principles of self-help, respect, responsibility
towards staff, customers and society. This is
much better, and better still if systemically
But now some have begun to realise that ‘real’
Lean is behaviour-driven. What everyone does
every day without being told. But how to get to
this state of nirvana? Behaviour is built through
confidence and security. An example would be
pulling the Andon chord when a problem occurs
and doing this as a habit, in the confidence that
this will be supported and expected. No ‘lip
service’. And the habit of using an experimental
approach. Over time, with persistence, this builds
the ‘world view’ – the things we take to be self-
The most important behaviour is that, at every
level, leaders are teachers – continually
reinforcing the correct usage of the principles
and the tools. Not relying on a 10-day Lean
course, or a book, or intranet for their staff to
learn the principles and tools – but by self-
demonstration and coaching every day.
In some ways the word ‘Lean’ is an unfortunate
one, because it has connotations of being
manufacturing only (but by no means is confined
to it), as well ‘mean-ness’ or ‘cutting back’,
generally in terms of headcount. On the contrary,
Lean is about growth and opportunity. For
example, Toyota has grown not cut back. They
have grown because they have capitalized on the
huge advantages that Lean brings. It is better to
grow into profitability rather than to shrink into
This leads to another important idea – that of
‘Lean Enterprise’. Womack and Jones have
emphasized that Lean is concerned with
enterprise not just with manufacturing. If you
have already started on your Lean journey
without involving design, marketing, accounting,
HR, distribution, and field service, you will have
to do so very soon or risk the whole programme.
These functions have a vital role to play in
answering what the organization will do with the
improved flexibility, times, and the rest. If the
answer is just ‘reduce costs’ management has
missed the point. But the Lean enterprise also
needs appropriate people policies, measures,
accounting, design and new product
introduction, supply chain activities, and service
initiatives – perhaps ‘servitization’.
David Cochrane makes an excellent point: Lean,
says he, is not what organizations need to do.
Lean is what organizations should become by
effective system design and implementation.
One way of understanding Lean is to view it as a
(proven) approach to dispense with increasingly
inappropriate ‘economies of scale’ and to adopt
‘economies of time’. To conclude, take Ohno’s
1. Mentally force yourself into tight spots.
2. Think hard; systematically observe reality.
3. Generate ideas; find and implement simple,
ingenious, low cost solutions.
4. Derive personal pleasure from
1.3 The Double Diamond
The ‘Double Diamond’ is a useful concept that
has been used for decades in value engineering,
design (British Design Council), culture change,
and service. A typical example is shown in the
Within each diamond various alternatives are
generated, considered, and the appropriate
solution selected. Widen out the possibilities,
then narrow the focus. Never go blindly after one
solution – and then sometimes find it is a bad
solution and all the work has been wasted.