Kossoff On ... Using Lean tools to build on your terms

There's a dangerous misconception about what Lean is and does. In fact, it's so dangerous - and so common - that most organisations either misuse the system, miss the opportunities, or both.

That is because Lean is mistakenly thought of as a corrective action mechanism. That its purpose is to identify problems that are "hidden" in the workings of your organisation and root them out. Then, once you have done the "rooting" part and figured out the fix, because you still have all those really great Lean tools and techniques in place - with lots and lots of measures involved - you can create consistent and monitored systems and procedures to ensure that the same problems never occur again. Ever.

And if that's what you were thinking - or doing - with your Lean or Six Sigma initiative, you have missed the point. Completely.

Lean is strategic. It is wholly innovation based. It is cultural.

It is the way you do business. Or the way you should.

It happens to come with a lot of tools and techniques - but those are no different from the standard operating methods or mechanisms you use to generate whatever you do in whatever form it may come.

It doesn't matter if you're a landscape designer figuring out a vertical edible garden on the side of a high rise building or you grow apples or you own a garden retail centre. Each has its own standard set of tools and, as you know, there's nothing special in the tools. It's how you use the tools and make the best use of the outcomes you generate that differentiates you and allows you to build what comes next. On your terms.

If you've not taken a look at your Lean initiative lately, do so now.

If all you're using it for is a fix-it program, you're spending way too much time and money to get as good as no ROI compared to what you could be making from a well planned, strategically-driven, innovation-based initiative.

Lean ensures a future for your business - because it is wholly future oriented. Design and execute it that way and everyone will win.

Leslie L. Kossoff is Principal of The Kossoff Group, Confidential Advisers to Executives and Entrepreneurs.

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