Review of my Five Predictions for Lean in 2012

December 27, 2012

Crystal BallWay back at the end of last year I opened my big mouth (actually wrote it down) and made some predictions regarding Lean for 2012. So with great humility let’s see how I did…

  1. More culture, less tools – organizations will continue to look beyond the lean tools to building a lean culture.

There is definitely a surge on the emphasis on culture and principles in Lean. We have learned the hard way that the tools are not enough. If you attended any of the Lean conferences in 2012 the trend was that there were many more sessions on culture and people. The tools are still there, but they are just part of truly understanding and implementing Lean. For more information on Lean principles I would recommend “Lean Thinking” and The Shingo Prize.

  1. Healthcare still doesn’t “get it” – lean in healthcare will continue to lag other segments (see #3)

I know that there was a lot of discussion on the Affordable Healthcare Act this last year. I happen to think they missed the boat. To make healthcare more affordable, they should be focusing on reducing waste and hence this will reduce costs and lead-times while increasing quality and service levels. There are some pockets of healthcare that are applying Lean in hospitals but far too many have not seen the light. For a great book on the benefits of Lean in Healthcare I would recommend “One the Mend” (no pun intended).

  1. Is Lean Government possible? – government agencies will continue to see the benefits of applying lean principles and adopt it at a quicker pace

I’ve been personally involved with helping some government agencies applied Lean principles over the last year. Their intentions are good and they want to improve. I suspect many of them are concerned that budgets will be slashed and they will have to find new ways of doing things; and hence are turning to Lean for improvements.

  1. What’s next? – companies will try to look beyond Lean to see “what’s next” even though they haven’t realized the potential of lean

I’ve seen a few articles, advertisements and consultants that are touting the ‘next best thing” throughout the year. It is okay that we are learning more deeply and applying what we have learned in Lean, but why is it that we are always concerned with what’s next? How about focusing on improving the areas that need it with our current principles (see #5)?

  1. Getting Back to Basics – mastery and true understanding of the basic tools of lean like Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), 5 Whys, 5S, etc.

I’m not sure how to judge this one. I think there is still an undertone of lack of true understanding of the basics element of Lean. This might be in part to chasing ‘what’s next’ (see #4). We need to continue to coach and mentor our people in the fundamentals of Lean so that they truly can become lean thinkers.

So as you can tell, I am no soothsayer, nor an oracle to the future so I will save us the trouble and not make predictions for 2013 except one – many of us will continue to support and propel Lean forward to those who are willing to accept it.

All the best for 2013!

P.S. Don’t forget to stop by 5S Supply to see what’s new!


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