New Year 2009

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During one of my final company visits last year, I was asked by a young engineer in South America, “Why do you recommend lean?” His question had a slightly challenging tone and he appeared poised to dispute my answer, whatever it may have been.

I answered without thinking, “Because it can make people’s lives better.” His challenging demeanor vanished; his eyes sparkled with curiosity and even -- forgive if this sounds like hyperbole -- hope.

It is indeed my hope that lean will make all of our lives better, something that, we desperately need wherever we are in the world after a tumultuous 2008. Here’s to a prosperous and happy -- a better -- 2009.

My lean year’s resolution: “Muda wa Muda o yobu.”

You know what Muda means. “Yobu” is a verb meaning “to call” so “Muda wa Muda o yobu means something like “you have to call Muda, Muda”. Or, when you see Muda, you must call it out -- the first step toward making things better.

See you next week.

John Shook
Senior Advisor
Lean Enterprise Institute

2 Comments | Post a Comment
Mark Graban January 5, 2009
Beautiful thoughts and I agree with you completely, John, that Lean can make people's lives better. We see this in healthcare, where Lean can make life better for hospital employees AND for patients.

But managers have to have an interest in this, an interest in making lives better. Too many of them sit back and look at reports and are pretty satisfied with how things are today -- because they aren't at the gemba and they're shielded from reality of frustration for staff and danger for patients.

Good luck to all of us who are trying to open eyes to a different way of thinking and managing.
Jon Miller January 8, 2009
Hi John

It's great to read your ideas more frequently through the medium of blogging.

"Call it what it is: waste" would be 「無駄は無駄と呼ぶ」 "mudawa mudato yobu."

Your phrase reads "waste begets waste" 「無駄は無駄を呼ぶ} which is true but it wasn't what you meant to say.

Please write again soon.
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