The Purpose of Lean

By Jon Miller | Post Date: July 31, 2010 1:07 AM at Gemba Panta Rei

I think the purpose of lean is to get better at choosing good over evil. Most of us understand that lean requires us to choose value over waste, good over bad, and better over good. But to what end? How do we judge what is value and what is waste? The customer defines value, we may say, but many times the customer is fickle, wrong and even wasteful. The history of industrialization and modern business has shown that the pursuit of individual satisfaction or convenience today can lead to collective misery tomorrow. We can’t simply accept bad human judgment as “voice of customer” and blindly put our efforts towards fulfilling those needs efficiently. Genuine lean is essentially continuous improvement paired with respect for humanity. That is a simple yet effective definition of “good”.

I admit that this doesn’t make lean easier to practice. But maybe it makes it more worthwhile.


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