If Not You, Who?

By Ron Pereira Updated on October 7th, 2016

I was fortunate enough to speak at a FedEx leadership team meeting yesterday which was a ton of fun!

Before I spoke I was able to hear a few presentations including an awesome talk by our great friend and fellow lean thinker, Jamie Parker.  By the way, Jamie is presenting a workshop you won’t want to miss at this year’s AME conference called “Handing Over the Keys to Car.”  So, if you’re attending AME this year you will want to attend this workshop… Jamie is an incredibly gifted lean thinker with some amazing stories to share including how she went about learning to ride a motorcycle!

During another presentation the team explained how they go about operational excellence and two of the phrases/ideas they shared really caught my attention.

If not you, who?

First, the team was making the point of how everyone, across all levels of the organization, needs to be engaged in the continuous improvement journey.  Their motto is “If not you, who?

You see it’s so easy to make excuses for why your lean journey is failing… i.e. management doesn’t support me, there’s no time, etc.  But, in the end, the journey starts with each of us as individuals.  Who cares if your boss is jerk.  Make something better and then give them credit.  Don’t wait for support… it may never come until we, as individuals, take action.

If not now, when?

The team then went on to explain that there’s no time like the present to make things better.  The phrase they used was, “If not now, when?”  So, if you haven’t actively worked to make something better this week please finish this article, close your computer down, and fix something that bugs you.

Don’t wait until next week or next month.  Don’t call a meeting or agonize over the details of what you’re going to do.  Just go to gemba, or the place your work is done, and improve something.  Anything.  And it doesn’t have to be a massive improvement.  Are you sick of how far you and your colleagues have to walk to the printer?  Collaborate with them and move it.  It’s that easy.

So, the next time you’re in a rut… I’d really encourage you to think about these two phrases… in fact I plan to write them down and put them in my work area as a reminder.  If not you, who?  If not now, when?


  1. Vilas Badgujar

    October 11, 2016 - 11:02 pm

    If not you, who?
    If not now, when?
    Not just two statements but, motivating and pushing all towards goal.
    Liked very much.


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