Lean as a Philosophy

It’s very common for people to describe Lean as a toolbox or a set of tools. Yes, tools are helpful… but as I blogged about recently, Toyota leaders would tell you the philosophy is the most important thing.

That philosophy starts with:

  1. Customer first; provide customers with what they want, when they want it, and in the amount they want it
  2. People are the most valuable resource; Deeply respect, engage, and develop people
  3. Continuous improvement (kaizen); Engage everyone each and every day
  4. Shop floor (gemba) focus: Go to where the work is done to find and solve problems

Organizations that try to use Lean tools (or the mechanics of Kaizen) won’t get very far without the right philosophy. Are your improvement efforts focused on the needs of customers or patients? Franciscan St. Francis Health has increased patient/family satisfaction scores to the 99th percentile through the practice of Kaizen. These concepts all go hand in hand. They respect employees as their most important resource. Managers get out of their office to “the gemba” to work with employees to continuously improve… to create a better workplace AND to improve patient care.

Has your organization been working to adopt this philosophy?