We Need Less FAKE Lean, More FAIL Lean

This week in Bob Emiliani’s e-newlsetter Lean Leadership News, he addresses two interesting questions:

“Does an organization need to start with Fake Lean?”

“Is that a key part of the learning process on the way to REAL Lean?”
Bob goes on to explain:

Most senior managers mistakenly assume that Lean is something to bolt-on to their existing understanding and practice of management. They do not realize in the beginning that Lean management replaces most of their existing understanding and practice of management. They learn this years after they started, if at all.

Bob concludes that FAKE lean does not have to be part of the lean journey.

Some think Fake Lean is good enough, while others think Fake Lean is the same as REAL Lean. Fake Lean can appear to be a part of the learning process on the way to REAL Lean when senior managers do not learn and evolve in their thinking and practice of Lean.

He argues that organizations can avoid FAKE lean by being aware of what it is and consciously choosing the less attractive and more difficult path. But with so many ways of learning FAKE lean being written, sold and taught every day, it is almost unavoidable. Even if an organization does not need it, most are likely to pick it up like a brand name hand bag at a flea market which will look good and serve its purpose for the right price, and even just might not be FAKE.

Lean consultants have played a role in creating Bob’s “lean confusion”, by selling products in the vein of “lean made easy” that avoid the thorny leadership, incentive, and structural issues revealed as lean meets reality and fails to sustain. What we need is less FAKE lean and more FAIL lean: the type of lean that stretches, bends and turns things inside out to the point where were are forced to look at the mental, business and organizational models and challenge our dogma that what worked in the past is still valid today. FAKE lean will certainly FAIL, even REAL lean will fail if it is done right, challenging limits and extending across the enterprise. We need a way of practicing lean that allows for vigorous, controlled failure.

Look for Bob Emiliani’s new book titled Moving Forward Faster which promises to reduce “lean confusion” and help us dodge FAKE lean.