The value of going Lean is easy to quantify: in forensically examining a firm that is experiencing problems, Lean experts can identify what is going wrong and suggest solutions for the workforce to put in place.
But what if it is a new company, that doesn’t yet need a solution?
At a recent summit from the Lean Enterprise Academy, Lean guru Jim Womack summed it up like this: “Is it possible for an organisation to start up Lean from Day One, or must an organisation grow until it becomes inefficient, and only then learn from its mistakes?”
This challenge helps us re-examine the Lean principles we use every day at Nicholson Consultancy and realise their value as independent tactics that are transferrable to a number of situations.
We might think that the simple answer is to learn from other people’s mistakes, but current thinking is that Lean is situational – we can transfer the skills, but we need to tailor our approach for each organisation and each unique set of circumstances.
The question of where Lean fits into a business strategy mirrors various conversations I’ve had recently with friends and colleagues who are business owners and entrepreneurs.
We’ve all made many mistakes over the years and most of us would like to think that we wouldn’t repeat them. But how do you get it right until you’ve had the experience of trying it and getting it wrong?
The challenge is to create a business that is Right First Time – and having done that to keep it on track so that it never needs major work. Of course, there will always be improvements to be made because the manufacturing landscape changes so often, but an appreciation of Lean strategies can be a solid foundation to build on.
This is an interesting approach that many Lean practitioners and their potential clients will have missed out on. Let’s get the message across that Lean is not only a repair option, it can also be one of the first things on the list when a new business is being planned.
Maybe we don’t have all the answers and maybe we can’t get everything perfectly right from Day One, but surely there’s more than enough experience and accumulated knowledge out there now to at least aim for “More Right than Wrong, Most of the Time!”
Not the snappiest of slogans, but maybe it’s what we should be aiming for.