It’s not your Grandmother’s Lean anymore!


Share on LinkedIn

I had the pleasure of spending my day reading cover to cover, Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers. The book lays out an excellent framework for understanding and implementing Design Thinking within your organization. The book speaks for itself, a few outtakes:

A funny thing often happens as we pay close attention to what customers are up to – we find the clues to the new future in dissatisfactions with the present.

Brainstorming is 90% planning, 10% execution

Have you ever seen a 7-year-old make paper airplanes? Then you’ve seen design thinking.

The goal isn’t to nail it; the goal is to identify new hypothesis that may help you reinvent the process.

“Creating new concepts de[pends a lot more on discipline than on creativity. You take the ten most creative people you can find anywhere. Give me a squad of ten marines and right protocols and I promise we’ll out-innovate you.” – Larry Keeley of Doblin

Prototyping = Faking a new business fast.

Design Thinking begins with Design Doing

Listen to Tim Ogilvie talk about the book…

On Designing for Growth from Tim Ogilvie on Vimeo.

Design Thinking compliments Lean in many ways. Just as Lean, it emphasizes seeking value at Gemba or from the customer’s point of view. It also emphasizes a learn by doing approach. The Design Thinking approach may even emphasize visualization more so than Lean.

Several reason I found the book so interesting is that it reminded me on how I apply the 5 principles of Lean to marketing. In fact, the “tooling” is very similar and the book offered a deeper insight into my own processes. One example was that it challenged me to resist conclusions and recognize that only customers have them. I should frame the situation to extract that information from them. It also reinforced my efforts to understand the current state, an area that frustrates many clients. At the very beginning of explaining the What is? stage they make the statement, “Step away from That Crystal Ball.”

My frustrations with many Lean and “Lean Six Sigma” Practitioners are the inability to move them away from thinking about Lean as a waste reduction tool. As any reader of my blog knows, I look at waste reduction as only a by-product of Lean. Lean is about problem solving and knowledge creation or PDCA.

Design Thinking is a hot trend right now and Lean Practitioners can learn much from it. I put down this book thinking, It’s not your Grandmother’s Lean anymore! Are we finally ready to stop thinking about lean as a waste reduction tool?

P.S. I believe Lean Six Sigma is an oxymoron. Both are very good methodologies and are only used together for marketing purposes.

Buy the Book: Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers

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.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here