I created The Lean Workshop with one mission: to bring transformational real-world lean improvements to companies which are ready to improve, but want to make the start of their lean journey a careful one, or which cannot yet justify a six-figure improvement salary added to their payroll. In other words, accessible lean help. Finally.
My first exposure to lean (and to consultants) in 2000 showed me how easy it is to miss the mark. I watched a Lean consulting firm come into the company where I worked and change everything, move workstations around and apply some improvement tools, all the while committing what I later discovered was a cardinal sin: the people doing the actual work were told “what” to do, but the time wasn’t put in to teach the “why” behind this seemingly backwards, but effective methodology. Still worse, the workers were not asked to think about how to improve the processes. As could be expected, everything began to backslide almost immediately once the consultants left. It took me years to realize I had just learned one of the most valuable lessons of my work life: the people who matter the most are the people who’s hands touch the product (or service). If they are not invited to climb on board with the vision, then it’s just a daydream in the boss’ mind.
The spirit of lean is in trying things – today. Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno, considered the godfather of lean (first called the Toyota Production System), always advocated experimenting with an idea immediately, instead of running through an endless list of checked boxes and “project charters” before ever even trying something new. If the idea is going to fail, try it now, fail fast and learn, and try the next idea. After all, it’s better than taking months to fail, and losing all that time, isn’t it? In the words of Mark Twain: “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”
It is in this spirit that I wanted to strip away many of the over-intellectualized trappings that many process improvement professionals still insist are important, also drop the “office-speak,” and get straight to fixing the stuff that makes a difference to you, your team, and most importantly, your customers. I look forward to changing the game with you… it’s going to be a lot of fun.
– Jeremy Sullivan