Sep 13 2012
L.A.M.E. (Lean As Mistakenly Executed) is giving Lean a bad name. The article’s lead paragraph says is all:
“The lean manufacturing model, when applied to knowledge work, is a race to the bottom where humans are reduced to robots and creative output to widgets. The work is process-mapped to death, and management demands “faster, better, cheaper.” The concern is not for the experience of the end customer or the growth of the company, but rather ‘what can the customer live without so that we can save more money?’”
How do you respond to this? Following is a comment I posted:
What I find striking in your story is that you never mention what your office was supposed to be doing, which suggests to me that the “Lean” approach was the deployment of generic tools under the mistaken assumption that they would help regardless of whether the office was architecting skyscrapers or processing insurance claims.
First, you have Toyota, the company where Lean was invented as a means of becoming a better car maker. It worked. Then you have had many people who used Toyota’s reputation to peddle simplistic, dumbed-down copies of Toyota’s system under the Lean label. It didn’t work, and they are giving Lean a bad name.
Then you have had more people further simplify and double-dumb down the approach to port it over to offices, and it seems to be what you experienced.
The starting point should be the work: what it is, how much of it there is, and how it varies over time. Then you look for ways to improve effectiveness, which means producing more relevant, higher-quality output faster. Finally, you worry about efficiency, which means eliminating waste in the process. And waste is by definition stuff you are better off not doing, like printing and disributing reports nobody reads.
My recommendation to you is to go back and study the original, rather than the output of a multi-stage telephone game.
See on lukerumley.com