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.
Paul Todd says
Harsh but true. When I began to learn about lean in the mid-90s it was as if a curtain had been raised on a world I had not known. I now realize I was only peeking under a corner of the curtain, and it has continued to rise slowly ever since as my understanding deepened. I sometimes work with students and recent graduates, and I try very hard to help them start with a more complete view than my own. Referring to lean as “the principles of excellent managemant” is a great starting point.
Rick Bohan says
Jim Fernandez says
Wow. Interesting statistics.
I worked in municipal water and power for 35 years and never heard of Lean. I was involved in a large re-engineering project in 2002 and never heard of Lean. I wish we had used Lean during our re-engineering.
In 2006 I entered the manufacturing arena and discovered Lean concepts for the first time. Now I am a Lean Manager for 150 workers. Seven of us know about Lean, the other 143 never heard of it.
You would think good news would travel fast. We are supposed to use Lean concepts to gain an advantage over our competition. And, we are encouraged to share the good news about all things Lean. Seems like two opposing ideas.
Mark Graban says
I’m not sure when healthcare (if you can generalize) first heard of lean, but the earliest attempts I have heard of were 1995 in the Seattle area (not Virginia Mason and not Seattle Children’s). The consultant was Joan Wellman. So 15 years later, healthcare is still learning. News spread slowly.