Friday, November 13, 2009

Why do CI tools fail to deliver results.

I had an interesting discussion with a client this morning. We have been talking through his organizational challenges and he was pondering which tool we should be using next.

I received an email from Seth Godin today that struck me following this conversation. Seth’s message was that “to a person with a hammer, every problem seems like a nail”. While I had heard this axiom before, it really hit home today.

Perhaps this is why many people are not seeing the results that they are striving for with their continuous improvement initiatives. Rather than looking at their organization systematically and identifying the opportunities for waste elimination, we look in our toolbox and select which tool to play with next.

With all the focus on tools, we can easily lose perspective on a systems approach. The opportunities in the organization drive the need for the tools. Our understanding of lean thinking helps us select the right tool to apply. We should not be selecting the hammer and go hunting for loose nails.

Perhaps this is a common problem when learning the tools. Perhaps this is why I hear “we tried that before - lean does not work here”. I’d hate to see the doctor for a head cold and be told he recommends surgery, just because he is a surgeon.

Food for thought.


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