Cruel Hoax: Hope

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at the Washington State Lean Transformation Conference held in Tacoma. The event was an amazing testimony to hope. There were about 2,200 people in attendance, up from 400 who attended the year before.

Washington State government completed 95 lean projects in the past year.

Lean brings the promise of change, and with change comes hope.

At the conference someone came up to me to share some thoughts about the talk I gave. I warned that 80 percent of organizations that launch lean abandon it within three years. The reason is that management fails to apply this new way of thinking and its powerful tools to their processes – the management processes. Failure to do so often leads management to give up on lean largely because they do not understand how to leverage it to drive improvement that matters.

The gentlemen who talked to me said he was worried lean in Washington State could end up being a “cruel hoax.” He went on to explain that it has brought hope to so many in state government that its failure would bring great disappointment.

Anytime an organization launches what it hopes will be a game changer it is essential for leaders to do their homework. Lean is not something leadership can delegate. It’s a different way of thinking and a different way of working.

As leaders pursuing change, it’s our job to understand in depth what we are committing to and then to apply the new thinking ourselves before we expect others to do so.

Hope is an awesome thing. Squandered it can make people very jaded. Leveraged, it can bring great energy that ensures success of any change effort.

John Bernard – Video Blog Post – Optimizing Lean

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