|Scooped by Michel Baudin|
"The Lean that we all grew up with came to us completely wrong. Messengers Jones and Womack not only mislabeled it, but misinterpreted it too. In their roles as observer-reporters, they described what they saw through the old management paradigm and pretty much interpreted and documented everything from that perspective. They did that really well and Lean Thinking became the “go-to manual” as a result. But it wasn’t the right thing, so they pretty much missed the engine of Toyota’s management system. The result? 30+ years of misfires from nearly all corners of the earth, as leaders and consultants took what Jones and Womack observed and tried to implement it."
Michel Baudin's insight:
I agree with your assessment, but I am not so sure about the remedy. About Womack and Jones, I would say that they authored one good book: "The Machine That Changed The World," and leave it at that. To them, manufacturing was a spectator sport, and they shared the results of a worldwide benchmarking study of the auto industry.
I met Jim Womack at Honda in 1999, where I was helping a team of engineers on the design of a new motorcycle engine assembly line. We then had lunch together with our common host, Kevin Hop, and Womack was forthright about his limitations. It's other people's response to his writings and speeches that changed him from a reporter to a thought leader, and ushered in what you describe.
20 years ago, I started using the "Lean" label as a company- and industry-neutral alternative to "TPS," allowing other car manufacturers to embrace it without referencing a competitor, and companies in other industries not to appear to borrow from car making. Today, it has come to mean a set of simplistic, half-baked ideas with a record of implementation failure.
You are suggesting doubling-down and going for "Lean 2.0." In principle, anything 2.0 comes after the success of the first version. There are exceptions, particularly in manufacturing, where a string of versions from MRP to ERP have been sold to successive generations of managers without any having been successful. What about using a new label?