Why I don’t like Lean houses, except one


Chris HOHMANN – Author

I never liked the (Toyota inspired) Lean houses and their many variants. First all these models are generally understood as prescriptive rather than descriptive, thus those new to Lean tend to adopt and copy one model without necessarily understanding its real meaning.

The building blocks of Lean houses are principles, methods and tools, reinforcing the feeling that it’s all about “techniques”.

The house building metaphor also suggests a beginning with sound foundations, robust pillars and when the roof is atop, the organization is done.

We’ll see later it is not in this way.

To add to the confusion, with the broad choice of variants, which is the right one to look at?

The answer should be “the one fitting your purpose, the one you define and build yourself”. But model seekers look for ready-to-use templates, not concepts. So the large choice of variants is more puzzling than guiding. And another bad news: genuine Lean transformation does not come as instant pudding (tribute to W.E. Deming’s quote).

I kept ignoring those houses until I saw John Shook’s new interpretation of the Lean House.

In this model, called the Lean transformation model, there is no prescription, only five questions corresponding to the roof, the pillars, the center and the foundations.

It strangely starts with the roof, because this is what you’re striving for, your Goal. All you will build is done in order to achieve your Goal, the purpose of the organisation.

The first pillar is process improvement and it answers the question about how to change current condition in order for the purpose to become true, how the change has to be conducted?

The second pillar is about capability development, answering the question about how to give people the means and know-how to conduct the change?

Both pillars are necessary for continuous improvement. No point kaizen, kaizen events and the like, real continuous improvement through experimenting and learning to solve problems.

In the center of the house, a character represents management and leadership behaviors and the question is: what management and leadership behaviors do you need in order to make the change happen?

The foundation is made of mindset, the basic beliefs and assumptions. Not the current ones but the new mindset, the basic beliefs and assumptions necessary to make the change happen.

For more details about this model, you may read my other post and watch the embedded video.

What I like with this model is the fact it is really generic: the 5 questions apply to any kind of organization. Furthermore, asking questions leads to build a specific house, a model designed for your purpose and not someone else’s model.

Another reason why I like this model is its convergence with the Logical Thinking Process. When I hear John Shook presenting his model, I “see” a Goal Tree and a Future Reality Tree, bridging Lean and Theory of Constraints. For more about this, read my post: Lean transformation model as TP trees

Read Michel Baudin’s answer to this post: http://michelbaudin.com/2016/09/02/why-i-dont-like-lean-houses-except-one-christian-hohmann-linkedin-pulse/

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

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