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Friday, June 26, 2020

Lean Quote: Lean Like All Great Achievements Require Time

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.

"All great achievements require time.  — Maya Angelou

Things take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. It would be pretty unrealistic to develop and build a whole company from the ground up in less than a week or even month for that matter. The plain and simple truth is that it takes time to do things, especially if it is going to be considered quality. Maya Angelou’s quote reminds us that in the grand scheme of things, and it takes a long time to climb a mountain.

Lean is often described as a “journey, not a destination”. For me the Lean journey is not a stroll down a winding road but rather a climb up a perpetual hill. Reaching the top of the hill is the pinnacle of the journey. So you are either improving (climbing the hill) or you are falling back. The key to keep you moving forward up the hill is to stay customer focused (not competitor focused as that is looking behind you.) Your acceleration up the hill is controlled by the rate of new learning (this changes the speed of improvement). The smarter you work the closer you get to reaching the top.

Lean doesn’t end after you reach your first set of goals, and it’s not a finite project with a beginning and end date. Rather it’s a way of business life that everyone needs to pursue continuously. Sustaining the Lean effort and overcoming inertia requires institutionalizing your process (how you’re going to climb the hill). The real benefits of Lean come from a sustained effort over years, not weeks or months.

A Lean journey is full of steps not all of which are forward. Failure will occur. Its ok, the purpose is learning, and we learn through experimentation. Never settle for mediocre, especially when processes and procedures could be improved to provide greater levels of productivity and enhanced levels of cost savings. Trying new approaches, exploring new methods and testing new ideas for improving the various processes is exercise for the mind.

Getting lean doesn't happen overnight. Lean takes time. For those who worry about the time involved with implementing lean concepts, remember, the time will pass anyway so why not spend it creating worthwhile changes.

Just like compound interest, continuous improvement compounds over time, giving greater long-term benefits.

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