Imagine an interview with someone for an entry level job – or middle management or, worse yet, senior management – and that person not only had no proficiency in Microsoft Word or Excel, but had never even heard of Windows. Suppose he or she was unaware of the Internet's existence. Or that he did not know cell phones were available.
Can you picture hiring someone who thought Hong Kong was still a British possession, the Soviet Empire was still thriving, was completely oblivious to the Gulf War or 9/11, or did not know that NAFTA was in place? What if your job candidate had never heard of the space shuttle or the space station?
Would you for a minute consider hiring anyone who knew nothing of CD's, DVD's or bar coding? How about someone who was unaware of the existence of Amazon, Staples, Starbucks, or The Home Depot? Would you put responsibility in the hands of a person who viewed ATM's and debit cards as 'unproven' ideas that had limited application in today's world?
In short, would you hire anyone who had stopped learning about world affairs, technology or common business practices during the Carter administration? – someone who knew little or nothing about events and changes that occurred while Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama were in office?
Of course no one would consider hiring someone so completely out of touch, and so obviously devoid of the most basic interest in learning or the ability to do so.
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the momentous conference in Detroit that was the first known formal event dedicated to studying the Toyota Production System. Now Toyota chairman Fujio Cho was the featured speaker. Doc Hall and a couple of other folks frustrated with APICS' lack of interest in what we know as lean manufacturing drove the event and eventually spun the movement off from APICS to create the AME.
All of the events I cited above are later developments than this initial widespread realization that the world of manufacturing had changed. Anyone in 2010 who still thinks lean is some limited or unproven theory, or more likely, knows little or nothing about it, is as ignorant and irrelevant as a nut job who would say the same about Windows, cell phones or the Internet.
Ignorance of the principles of excellent management can never be tolerated as an excuse for lack of performance, but after 30 years it needs to be recognized for the absurd abomination it is. If you are younger than 55 or so, the lessons from Toyota were known, or at least knowable, for your entire career. If you are younger than your mid-40's forties, the term 'lean' was in place when your career began. Those of us who are older than that have had ample time to learn.