Are you waiting for the end of the rainbow?


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Lean Thinking continues to be one of the best resources for understanding “What is Lean”. Simply because it describes the thought process, the overarching key principles that must guide your actions when applying lean techniques and tools. From the Book description:

Womack and Jones recommend that managers and executives embarking on lean transformations think about three fundamental business issues that should guide the transformation of the entire organization.

The three fundamentals are:

  • Purpose: What customer problems will the enterprise solve to achieve its own purpose of prospering?
  • Process: How will the organization assess each major value stream to make sure each step is valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible, and that all the steps are linked by flow, pull, and leveling?
  • People: How can the organization insure that every important process has someone responsible for continually evaluating that value stream in terms of business purpose and lean process? How can everyone touching the value stream be actively engaged in operating it correctly and continually improving it?

RainbowIn Lean Service Design, I have found these three fundamentals surfacing time and time again as we work through the Customer Experience Journey and designing the service. The Process and People parts are easily understood, but the Purpose is the one that keeps surfacing. Not at the 10K level for organizational theory but at practically every step of the journey.

I typically ask, what customer problem will we solve to achieve a reason to continue? Why should we continue the journey? I go on to elaborate that this needs to be answered for both parties, our organization and the customer. We may not be able to answer this on every step of the journey but certainly at any moment of truth (A critical or decisive time on which much depends)?

Houston, we have a problem?????

What did that fundamental principle of purpose say? What customer problems will the enterprise solve to achieve its own purpose of prospering? I think this is forgotten while in the moment and the thrill of design. Are we just looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The company (and hopefully the customer) has to prosper to make this journey plausible. Do we need an exchange of some type of value to validate our journey? Maybe not, but are we being short-sighted not looking or asking for one?

Is Lean Thinking outdated? The rainbow is a very long journey with many paths and detours. Do we need to find a few bread crumbs, a few nuggets along the way? Do we?

Related Story: Did Maroney and Douglas deviate from Standard Work?

Have you considered the Lean Service Design Trilogy Workshop?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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