Guest Post: Beyond Lean?

Today’s guest blogger is Joe Wilson.  Joe is a great lean thinker that worked for an automotive supplier for several years.  Developing his lean thinking by diving into the deep end.  Joe now works for Tyson Chicken working within their Industrial Engineering group.  I happy to post his writing here.  Joe is a great lean thinker.

Beyond Lean…

My first thought upon seeing the title of this site was, “What the heck does ‘Beyond Lean’ even mean?”

At first in conjures up images of the ‘next big thing’ in trendy manufacturing lingo and training classes.  It seemed like it was going to be a super hybrid manufacturing system that encompasses Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, Kepner Tregoe, Red X, DOE, TQM, VORP, WHIP, PER, QB Ratings, and some ninja stuff mixed together.  All of which can be outsourced to the lowest possible labor cost country and managed remotely by an iPhone app.  Knowing Matt, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t where he was headed, but I was still struck by the name and what he meant by it.

Without asking for his reasoning behind the name, I’ll offer up my take on what it has come to mean to me.  I think ‘Beyond Lean’ is a way of stripping off the extra baggage of the names or origins of what we are talking about and looking at why something does what it does and what it would do for you.  I think it’s about pointing out where lean principles exist in the world around us without stretching to see it in places that it isn’t.  I think it’s also about looking past the words in a book (or from a video) and knowing that your path to greatness is going to be different than somebody else’s path.  Ultimately, I think ‘Beyond Lean’ is a mind set of sorts that reminds us that there is no such thing as achieving lean.  There are always opportunities to be found, problems to be solved, quality to improve…and the only way to chase that greatness is to be willing to look and reach beyond where the map tells you to look.

Then again, maybe Matt just thought it sounded good….

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Posted on September 10, 2010, in Guest Post, Other and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Joe is right on both counts. I did like the sound of ‘Beyond Lean’, because it did reflect what I was trying to get after. Lean is more than just the tools and concepts. It is about the mindsets and leadership. If we can’t change leadership then eventually anything “Lean” that we do will not stick. Joe and I learned this the hard way. We did a lot of “lean stuff” working for an auto supplier together. We helped turn the plant from the red to the second most profitable plant in the division in 3 years. Now it is back in the red. Why? Because we didn’t change the mindsets of the leadership. The way they saw things and acted and engaged. They would not have done anything if we weren’t there to push on them.

    So lets move Beyond Lean and the tools and also work on the leadership in order to change the business and have it stick.

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