Getting lean in business is a lot like going on a diet. As with most “trends” we see huge success, as well as those who come out to claim failure. The trend on the top of my mind when I think about this is the keto diet – the diet where people eat low to no carbs and high amounts of fat that changes the dieter’s metabolic state to that of ketosis.
People jump on the diet and lose tens of pounds, but those who give up, usually state that it’s just too hard to maintain. Oddly enough, this is the same reason given for the failure of lean in business – lean principles are just too hard.
Getting Lean in Business is Like Going on a Diet
People who go on diets have a strong desire to lose weight. In the beginning, they are excited, motivated and determined to see the outcomes they desire. Many get going in their diet and then it hits – they want a beer after work… to order pizza on a Friday night… to grab a quick something on the road because they left that diet meal sitting on the counter by mistake… And then, all of a sudden, the diet seems hard. They get tested and have a choice: eat what they are wanting (not what they need), or keep their eyes on the prize.
Digging Deep for the Root Cause
Lean in business starts with management excited for the desired outcomes: more floor space and organization, better inventory management, fewer defects, higher quality, more profit. We do a walk-through and start learning about the processes and mission-critical steps and start asking questions. Things are moving along and then… they get tested. Why is the forklift sitting broken? Who is responsible for it? How long has it been out of service… wait, how long??? Why are you paying for custom envelopes? Why is there double entry?
All the questions reveal root causes and expose old habits and behaviors. We do this to dig in deep to get to the source of the problem and uproot it entirely so it doesn’t return. But for some, this feels hard. It feels “redundant”. The irony is that redundancy is what we are working to remove. The time we are spending is actually correcting years of mismanagement of the process we are adjusting and improving.
Success or Failure: It’s a Choice
So, just like a diet, we can give up and try something else, or accept that we will always have that extra chunkiness, or, we can keep our eyes on the prize and make a commitment to seeing the end goal achieved. And, because lean digs in deep, the goal stays. “Lose the weight and keep it off” in lean becomes “Meet the goal and keep improving”.
To prevent a lean failure, do the work. Buy in, work at it, rely on your coach when things get hard, and keep an open mind to create a curious company looking towards the prize of continuous learning, constant improvement, and a truly lean culture.
PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert.