Boston Marathon 2013 – Reflections
In business, as in sports, we like to compete. We believe competing can benefit everyone. “Everyone” means everyone – not just the “winners.” Competing is a way for us to focus our energy, to focus our efforts on improving. That improvement usually comes a little at a time. Sometimes we experience breakthroughs while at other times we suffer steps backwards. But, that’s okay. We can still focus on moving forward, on making things better.
Lean thinking and practice, too, entail competing. It goes without saying, surely, that we believe in doing so peacefully. But, more than that, we engage in competing via lean thinking in the firm belief that it is actually a vehicle for peace. Friends sometimes ask us why we try to make things better everywhere, including sometimes in countries that compete – often fiercely – with our own country, the United States. Our reply is simple and clear: we are convinced that making things better for everyone makes things better … for everyone.
As you must know by now, a tragedy occurred yesterday at one of the world’s great competing events. The finish line of the Boston Marathon is about two miles from us at LEI, across the river in Cambridge. It was a quiet day, with most of our team members out of the office. We contemplated walking over to the marathon to enjoy a late lunch while watching the slower runners complete the 26 miles. The slower runners, you may know, are often running to raise funds for charities. It was a beautiful day for running.
We decided to stay in the office. It was one of the occasions when busy-ness turned out to be a blessing. We are all fine. Our hearts go out to those who suffered and are suffering.
The city remains in shock. Our local emergency responders are still frantically treating the injured. Our friend Alice Lee of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that the emergency room there is hectic but not panicked – hours of training and preparation are paying their dividends. The workers – doctors, nurses, staff – are taking it all in stride.
Thank you to all of you who have reached out to inquire how we are doing. We are, as usual, hard at work, trying to make things better. We trust the same is true for you.
Chairman and CEO
Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.
PS: To help, please go to www.redcross.org
Time To Make Time
When the people in a lean system don't value time, everyone is cheated, says John Shook, in this fascinating reflection on the role that time plays in a close observation of work.
The Remarkable Chief Engineer
How can a system in which "we are all connected and no one is in charge" support purposeful and productive work? Toyota's famed Chief Engineer system has much to offer in this regard. John Shook explores how the leadership styles of, and ways of working by, the CE might provide something of a roadmap for all of us.
How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process
In this three part series on SW, John Shook argues that "the Toyota Way is a socio-technical system on steroids. A test for all our lean systems is the question of how well we integrate people with process (the social with the technical). Nowhere does that come together more than in the form of standardized work and kaizen."