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Friday, April 19, 2013

Lean Quote: Today Should Be Better Than Yesterday, And Tomorrow Should Be Better Than Today

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Yesterday’s Home Runs Don’t Win Today’s Games." — Babe Ruth

This Babe Ruth quote is a great reminder of how you shouldn't coast too much after achieving a goal. Unfortunately, we see all too often those companies who finally reach #1 to only lose their way.

Complacency can and will compromise the performance of your organization. Everyone can become complacent in their particular environment, and there are different levels of complacency. At higher management positions, complacency may be more latent. At the line personnel “trigger pullers” level, however, complacency can have catastrophic results.

When it comes to complacency with regard to Lean it is often the result of a “We are Lean” mindset. This leads to a reduction in awareness/focus and leads to a false sense of security. For Lean to work effectively, the organization must be constantly focused on continuous improvement and best practice procedures for providing value. What sets an effective Lean system apart from simply reducing waste is engraining continuous improvement thinking into daily practice. Lean is not about a destination but rather journey.

Perhaps being second is better than first. It is unlikely that the first attempt at anything will be the best attempt ever by anyone. This would be like the very first Olympic 100 meter gold medalist setting a world record that is never beaten. The first product proves that something works but it is improbable that it represents the best solution. Better solutions will follow, all of which have a chance at being more popular than the original.

Today should be better than yesterday, and tomorrow should be better than today. This is the essence of continuous improvement. Coasting and complacency is a recipe for failure. The competition is always looking to take your lunch if you let them.

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