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Topic Title: What is your biggest question about Lean?
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Created On: 01/13/2017 08:05 AM
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01/13/2017 08:38 AM
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alessandro Piccolo

Hi there!

I'm developing a webinar and I'm really interested in what is your most important question about Lean.

Your answer will give me important information to make it worth watching, and I will use your questions in order to insert topics that are of your interest.


Edited: 01/13/2017 at 08:37 AM by Lean Moderator
01/20/2017 08:48 AM
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Owen Berkeley-Hill

There is no question that academia, in the form of the B-schools, has either ignored Lean or confined it to a Masters (MSc) which then brands the recipient as a specialist, a wing man or woman, not one qualified to rise up the chain of command. This dereliction of duty, or paradigm blindness, has created a vacuum of knowledge which as allowed so-called Lean experts both diminish and distort what we understand of this vast body of knowledge, so that Lean is either seen as the Toyota bag of tools or one alternative improvement methodology in competition with Six Sigma and a string of TLAs (BPR, BPM, TOC, ZQC, TQM, etc.).

Lean is, arguably, the most significant advance in our understanding of how a good leader/manager/supervisor should think, believe, act and behave. Why have the B-schools ignored Lean for so long when it was they who first introduced to the term over a quarter of a century ago?
Is it because the B-schools are providing what their customers want: more of the same? Or
Is it because this knowledge challenges how future leaders are educated and threatens their cash cow the MBA?

Unfortunately, it's pointless posing the question unless your webinar has a good sprinkling of B-school professors and deans. Sadly, I doubt you will not get an honest answer; I've tried.
01/27/2017 08:33 AM
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Robert Simonis

My biggest problem is that we have too many managers with MBA's. This is driving a belief that they can manage through a budget and spreadsheet instead of getting on the floor, talking with people, and understanding the reality of the gemba instead of the variance to budget.
01/30/2017 10:06 PM
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Owen Berkeley-Hill

Hi Robert,
I wholeheartedly agree with you. However, we must both face the fact that the MBA is seen as the "gold standard" when it comes to management education and development, even though it does encourage the wrong (not Lean) behaviours, through the wrong knowledge and the wrong way of learning.

When Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilisation, he was said to have replied, rather wryly, that he thought it would be a good idea. In the same spirit, I believe that management education and development would also be a good thing, but I do believe the current MBA, what it teaches, who teaches it, and how it is taught is past its "sell-by". As I may have remarked in these discussions, on several occasions in the past, the grumpy brothers, Kenneth & William Hopper published The Puritan Gift in 2010. The book was inspired by the 2008/9 global financial meltdown, and had some very tough things to say about the attitudes and behaviours of the typical MBA. The book also suggested that the "gift", which enabled the USA to overtake the UK and become "the workshop of the world", was generously given to the Japanese after WWII. Soon after the "gift" was given to the Japanese, the B-schools were successful in seducing American industry into believing that they (the B-schools) could develop better managers faster by the largely academic route, rather than the experiential "apprenticeship" which had until then grown successful American managers. I can remember Ford deciding that no one could get to management level unless she/he had a degree: this was cruel because it was never made explicit through a published policy. Later on, Ford, like many other companies began to hire MBAs and fast-track them up the hierarchy, a process which I believe was introduced after WWII to literally fill dead-men's shoes. Their ability to manage by numbers was highly regarded, and so going to the Gemba became unfashionable.

I believe Lean is not (just) an improvement methodology, but a significant advance in our understanding of how a good leader should think, believe, act and behave. I may be wrong. Am I advocating a Lean MBA? Yes. But not as just an academic degree. The 70/20/10 movement has a lot going for them. Is there any knowledge that can be taught solely in the classroom? I doubt it. Would you trust an airline pilot, or a brain surgeon, or even a humble car drive who learnt his knowledge and skill in the just the classroom? When I advocate a change to the MBA, I am asking for a radical change, with:
    Lean as the foundation of the degree; and
    Experiential learning and coaching forming around 90% of the education process.

This is my big question about Lean, but will academia listen; will they respond?
01/30/2017 10:06 PM
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William McCarthy

Robert, the fundamental problem is that there is a major difference between being a manager and being a Leader. Getting on the floor, talking with people, and understanding the reality of the gemba take Leadership skills. Being a manager with a mba does not automatically make an individual a Leader.
It is sad when you think about it, when times are bad it's takes Leadership to win the day, manager only muck it up even more.
02/01/2017 08:09 PM
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Patrick Sheehy

I don't believe academia will respond until the market does. Current MBAs are taught to maximize numbers for the current quarter. That's what companies want because that's what shareholders want. As long as the prevailing attitude that "the only good companies are the ones with better numbers each quarter" remains in place, schools will continue to produce a product that meets that demand.

To the question Alessandro presented, I think it would be very valuable to discuss the differences between lean philosophies and process improvement tools. Many people seem to struggle with applying a tool that runs counter to the philosophy they're actually after.
02/03/2017 12:01 PM
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Steve Milner

Bear in mind that the establishments issuing MBAs are in the business of selling education. Also, that there exist people at the start of their career who bemoan the fact that they cannot get a job because they're over-qualified and/or lack experience. So it works both ways.
I tend to agree with Owen though. What qualifications did Ford / Branson / Dyson etc. have to build successful businesses?
02/06/2017 10:34 AM
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Eric Raio

For some of my clients in Lean, the biggest question they have is

How to get started?

Should they roll out lean across the organization or by a department?

How to run a kaizen event?

Factory Solutions
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