The Lean Edge: Great Content, Confusing Presentation | 2013 Management Blog Review

Often, I find myself quoting posts from The Lean Edge. The 52 authors include Art Smalley, Art Byrne, Pascal Dennis, Mike Rother, and many others whose work I follow. At one point, I participated in The Lean Edge myself; I resigned in disagreement over policy, but I keep following it.

The Lean Edge has great content, but on busy pages with an opaque organization. The pages look as if their style has not been updated since 1993.  If you want to find what Karen Martin has posted about A3s, don’t try to navigate the site. Instead, just google:

karen martin A3  site:

Following is what the home page looked like this morning:

Lean Edge home page

The Lean Edge is advertised as “A dialogue between business leaders and lean authors.” As I understand the way it is supposed to work, there are two types of members:

  1. Business leaders, like Faurecia’s Catherine Chabiron, who have jobs like Process Improvement Manager in manufacturing companies.
  2. Lean authors, like the ones cited above, who have published at least one book on the topic.

Business leaders ask questions; lean authors answer. It is like a panel discussion at a conference, with the difference that, on The Lean Edge, the panel has more members than the audience. The site won’t provide you with a list of all the questions that have been asked but, if you want to know, you can google:


The authors are supposed to answer the questions but not debate each other, which actually is the sin I committed when I was participating as an author. The management of the Lean Edge is not clearly identified on the site, and the rules are not spelled out; the closest there is the list of founding members. The stated goal is to “collectively build a vision of lean management,” and disagreements among authors are deemed counterproductive. I think it is an unfortunate choice. From the posts by Art Smalley and Mike Rother on the subject of Standard Work, it is obvious that they disagree, and I would have liked to see a dialogue between them.

While there are two categories of authors — business leaders and lean authors — they are commingled in the authors’ list in the left sidebar. As a reader, it would be clearer if they were listed separately, with a profile for each individual, including, for authors, a bibliography with links to an online bookstore.

What is happening here is that The Lean Edge site is built on WordPress’s blogging platform when in fact it is not a blog. Blogging first emerged as a way for an individual to have an on-line conversation with the rest of the world. Because there was a demand for it, blogging technology was enhanced to accommodate multiple authors, but it is an awkward fit, and I find multi-author blogs usually less interesting than the ones with a strong authorial voice.

For multiple authors, the structure you really need is a discussion group or forum. Today, LinkedIn groups are the best and most successful platform I know for this purpose.  For multiple categories of authors with different roles, I don’t know what the right platform is.  Ad-hoc development may be needed.

The Lean Edge has great content, but could be improved by clearly stated and more open editorial policies, and by a thorough redesign of the web site.