When you hear Avel Espiritu talk about the many Lean successes he’s seen in his 13 years practicing Lean, it’s hard not to wonder if he’s talking nonsense. Increased production? Better quality? Lower project lead time? The benefits seem almost too good to be true.
Nevertheless, Avel maintains that Lean can bring about huge advantages to any business. The trouble is that sometimes those advantages are hidden behind some common misconceptions.
He described a few of those misconceptions, and why they might be standing in your company’s way of benefiting from Lean too.
Misconception: Lean is only used in manufacturing
“If your business has two or more people, Lean is for you,” Avel explains. Lean is used in manufacturing but has also been successfully used in other industries like health care, post office, the army, the government, and post-secondary institutions. If companies with knowledge workers, such as an engineering firm, look at their project processes the same way they might look at an assembly line, they can start to understand how Lean will apply to them.
Misconception: I don’t have time to be Lean
Avel brings up the definition of insanity to respond to this one, saying, “You can’t keep doing something the same way and expect a different result.” If you are willing to do things a little bit differently than you’ve done before and adopt Lean practices, you’ll learn while you do it and soon you’ll notice a shift; Instead of operating in the common reactive state most business function in, you’ll start operating in a proactive, improvement-minded state that keeps making everything better and better. You start to apply a scientific mindset to your processes, where you begin to master your processes, but you also learn about your team and yourself as well.
Misconception: Lean is a destination
Avel wants people to understand that he “practices” Lean, meaning he does it all the time. For a company, it is no different. Lean isn’t something you do then check off a list – it’s a permanent journey and a permanent struggle towards finding a better way to deliver value to your customers. You can’t, “Go Lean.” Instead, you practice a way of thinking and a way of doing things that continuously delivers better results as long as you’re committed to it.
“It’s a paradigm shift,” explains Avel. “When people start to practice Lean, or they start their journey of their Lean transformation, you’re going to start seeing things differently. How you think about things, how you approach things, how you go about doing it – that will all change.”
To experience the benefits of Lean, a company should understand those common misconceptions, and also remember that adopting Lean isn’t easy.
“My biggest Lean success stories are the net result of all the failures that we experienced pursuing improvement,” Avel says. “And what we, as a team, learned from those mistakes. There’s nothing like learning while doing – that’s the learning mindset you need to reach the next threshold”
If you want personal coaching and assistance from an experienced and proven Lean expert, contact Red-5.