Guest Post by Michael Lombard of the Lean Builder Blog
Have you seen any of Conan O’Brien’s “In the Year 2000” skits? They were funny when he started doing them way back in the 90’s, and were even funnier when he kept doing them long after the turn of the millennium.
I don’t know if it was the quasi-futuristic clothing, the dude with the falsetto voice, or Conan’s ridiculous predictions, but that was some hilarious television.
In that same spirit, I’d like to make some ridiculous predictions about what Lean Leaders will be like in, let’s say… 10 years from now (in the year 2020). Here goes:
Prediction #1: In the year 2020… Lean Leaders will do a great job of utilizing Social Media.
I predict this because Lean Leaders place a high value on collaboration, just-in-time communication, and overall organizational awareness…all of which are enhanced by social media. Just check out some of the things Hal and the gang at Lean Project Consulting are already doing with micro-blogging and other tools. Or check out this list of Lean folks I follow on Twitter.
I predict Lean Leaders in 2020 will utilize micro-blogging, blogs, collaboration software, and yet-to-be-invented tools to improve the flow of knowledge and communication in their organizations.
Be honest, do you chuckle when you hear the word ‘Twitter?’
Prediction #2: In the year 2020… Lean Leaders will be leaders in Project Management.
Project Management as a profession is a relatively new phenomenon. It has arisen in response to the chaos that globalization and innovation have wreaked upon organizations in recent history. Products and processes have to be constantly reinvented nowadays to keep pace with the market, so organizations have to constantly manage a portfolio of change projects.
Good project management (i.e. the PMI PMBOK methodology) provides a solid base of stability for projects to be performed. However, as Lean Leaders understand, creating process stability is not the end, but the beginning of improvement. Taking Project Management beyond basic stability and into radically improved flow will be the next great leap for Project Management, and I predict it will be the domain of Lean Leaders.
Prediction #3: In the year 2020…Lean Leaders will have infiltrated a wide range of industries.
This is already happening. Lean Healthcare, Lean Construction, Lean Military…you name it—Lean advocates are seemingly everywhere now, just in small numbers at the moment. By 2020, I see Lean becoming more generally accepted and Lean Leaders becoming more common in a wide range of industries.
I say this because global trends seem to indicate that resources of all sorts (money, energy, water, etc.) will become more and more scarce, thus placing a premium on the ability to minimize waste—the domain of Lean Leaders. Every industry will be affected by these global trends to some extent, which should create broader demand for Lean Leaders.
Are you pioneering the use of Lean in your industry? If so, let’s hear about it!
Prediction #4: In the year 2020… Lean Leaders, out of necessity, will get really good at organizational design.
Pop quiz—If Lean is a clearly superior approach to management, then why hasn’t it become the standard for all organizations? Why have we yet to make the great leap?
Maybe it’s because we have failed to address deeply ingrained organizational barriers, such as: antiquated accounting systems, short-sighted employment practices, pathetic talent development strategies, rigid vertical management structures, and so on. We need people who can address these issues with authority.
Many of the most talented Lean Leaders I’ve met have had backgrounds in Industrial Engineering, Supply Chain Logistics, Operations Management, or Six Sigma. They’re highly technical people. I predict that future Lean Leaders will not only be technically skilled, but will also display a much deeper understanding of organizational factors. We need to take the big organizational decisions out of the hands of the bean-counters and put them in the hands of the people that can tell the difference between value and waste.
If there was one thing you could change about your organization’s design that would help your Lean initiative, what would it be?
Prediction #5: In the year 2020… things will be so radically different that my predictions will seem as ridiculous as Conan O’Brien’s.
But that’s okay. My hope is that Lean Leaders will surpass my predictions sooner than expected, and that by 2020 they will already be figuring out new ways to improve the world that we’ve yet to anticipate. In so many ways, they already are…which makes right now, 2010, an exciting time to be around the Lean world.
Don’t you agree, Lean Leaders?
About the author: Michael Lombard is a Lean advocate and Project Manager, based in Dallas-Ft. Worth, currently exploring career opportunities in all industries and locations. You can view his profile here, his Lean Builder blog here, or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.