Lean Principles for Complex Times

When is the last time you did not feel like discretionary time was not a luxury?  It seems that most of us are rushing through the day from one meeting to the next taking hits from all directions with little time to work on those Continuous Improvement projects that you know will improve your process.

Tony Schwartz blogs about Ten Principles to Live By in Fiercely Complex Times.  I could not help but to consider how these principles align with Lean Leadership and how you could apply these to your Lean world in manufacturing, healthcare, or service.  Here are a few of Mr. Schwartz’ principles with Lean commentary:

  1. Always challenge certainty, especially your own:  Lean is all about challenging the current process to create value from the customer’s perspective.  The current process may not have been designed with this perspective.  There is room for improvement if there is still waste even if you or others don’t see it.  Challenge the process to see where you can make it safer, improve quality, make it more efficient, and remove waste.
  2. Excellence is an unrelenting struggle, but it is also the surest route to enduring satisfaction:  Lean is also about the relentless pursuit of excellence.  There is no short cut to true excellence.  Pick the right initiatives to bring sustainable improvements and be encouraged by the incremental changes. Lean practitioners should enjoy the feeling of a job well done when they drive improvements to their process by driving out waste and adding value. 
  3. Emotions are contagious, so it pays to know what you’re feeling.  Lean really is a journey in pursuit of excellence with the lofty vision of perfection.  Be careful though because the journey can wear on you if you let negative thoughts creek into your team’s psyche.  Guard against feelings like “it’s never good enough.”  It’s better to enjoy the ride with feelings like “The team has done great.  Let’s see how we can get even better.”

Lean Leaders challenge the process.  Lean Leaders are relentless about pursuing excellence and enjoy the journey.  Lean Leaders know that their attitude is contagious and set a good example.  What examples can you share about how you have you managed your pursuit of excellence?

Best regards,                                                                                                                         Christian Paulsen                                                                                                                           Lean Leadership Blog                                                                                                            Written for  The Consumer Goods Club


You can see part 2 of the series Lean Principles for Complex Times here.  Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article.  You can check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there as well.  Your feedback is appreciated.


About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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7 Responses to Lean Principles for Complex Times

  1. For someone who is new to blogging, you are certainly doing a great job Christian. I enjoy your writing style and subject matter.

  2. Pingback: Tom Tom Says "Lean Leadership"

  3. I’ve read a couple of your articles. Christian my man, this is a resourceful site! I am in the field of early childhood education. I’ve recently created a literacy program geared to early learners in the inner city of Atlanta, Ga. This particular post resonates strongly with me. Gonna tweet this. Thank you, Christian!

    • Pamela,

      Thank you for the very kind feedback. I am glad that this resonates with you and appreciate your comments as well as the tweet! Best wishes for your literacy program. Helping children is truly a noble cause.

      Thanks again,

  4. Carol Dunlop says:

    Hi Christian, you bring up a great point about emotions in the pursuit of excellence. I have issues with stopping and letting go and saying “this is enough,” then moving forward. Sometimes its really easy and other times it’s really difficult. I appreciate your comment so much because I am embarking on a new project that puts me in the lead and I know that I will need to apply this principle even more.

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