The Lean Edge

John Hunter asked me to participate this year in his Annual Management Blog Review, and I agreed to review three blogs I follow, starting with The Lean Edge.  It is a blog with multiple authors, including some of the best writers about Lean. I enjoy reading posts from people like Art Smalley, Jeffrey Liker, or Pascal Dennis, to name a few, but I find the site busy and confusing.

On top of the home page is the question of the month: “Why has the Lean movement largely failed to capture the imagination of the sales team?” by Joel Stanwood, and it is followed by 10 answers that are on-topic. But then the next post is a repeat of the question and it is followed by posts that are unrelated to it, such as “Establish a daily pattern production schedule to sequence your presses,” by Peter Handlinger.

To understand the logic behind this, you tab over to the “About” page, according to which “The Lean EDGE is a platform for discussion between management thinkers and lean management writers. Lean authors give their responses to general management questions posed by guest writers. The aim of the discussion is to share different points of view and to collectively build a vision of lean management.”

San Francisco parking signIt is simple as a San Francisco parking sign (see left). It introduces four categories of participants: management thinkers, lean management writers, lean authors, and guest writers. When you go back to the Home page to see who is in these different categories, you find everybody lumped in a list called “Authors” on the left sidebar, alphabetized by first names, and including people who are business executives and not writers. You even find two entries that are not people at all, like “book announcement” and “event announcement.”

I did participate as an author for a while, but resigned in frustration. You are prompted to “Write a comment” on any post but you are not supposed to. If you want to write a comment, you have to submit as a new post, which goes against your conditioned reflex as a blog reader. And then you are supposed to respond only to the original question, not to another contributor’s post. So you put all these great authors together to “share different points of view,” but they may not debate each other.  It was like visiting Switzerland, where I always feel that everybody is watching me for breaking some rule I don’t know but everybody else does.

I think the root of the problem is that The Lean Edge is trying to do with WordPress something that it isn’t intended or well-suited for. To me, a blog is a conversation between one author and the world, and the ones I enjoy most have an unfettered, unique authorial voice. With multiple authors, it is not a blog but a forum. It works by different rules and needs different software platforms, such as LinkedIn Groups.

Still, I occasionally visit The Lean Edge because I am interested in what Peter Handlinger has to say about scheduling a press shop, or Orry Fiume about making field sales reps participate in Kaizen events.