Every once in a while, for nearly 30 years, the question arises: “what’s the next big thing after Lean?”, suggesting that the askers are done with Lean. We write July of 2016 and it seems that everybody is Lean now.
Many people have been repeatedly exposed to Lean methods and tools, have been involved in Lean workshops, kaizen events, sketched Value Stream Maps and identified wastes, sorted out, cleaned up and rearranged stuff 5S style.
They have seen improvements, celebrated the workshop’s success and were dismissed with a feeling of mission accomplished. Others didn’t see a clear outcome, noticeable improvement or a sustainable result and resumed their regular work.
Both may have a legit feeling of being done with Lean, the first because their objectives were met, the latter because Lean doesn’t work.
Almost everybody has heard about Lean, in good or bad, in manufacturing or administration, in hospitals or software development. Lean is a word that found its way into the business lingo, and hearing it often makes it familiar.
There is also the growing impatience as everything speeds up and the instant satisfaction sought by everyone becomes commonplace. Few people are able to commit to a very long and tedious journey towards excellence in the Lean way, most would prefer periodical quantum leaps. Just as they replace their smartphone from one model/generation to the next, keeping up with fashion or state-of-the-art technology.
Of course we are far from done with Lean and very very few companies I’ve visited can claim being Lean. Nevertheless I can understand the fading interest in Lean and the need to reinvigorate it with something new and effective.
Something new means something new to people they didn’t know about until now, not necessarily new per se. Effective means bringing positive results system-wide, not a local optimisation.
My advice would be to consider Throughput Accounting, Critical Chain Project Management and the Logical Thinking Process.
This is not about the next big thing AFTER Lean but the next big thing WITH Lean!
Throughput Accounting (TA) is not really accounting but rather a Throughput-based decision-making approach. In a nutshell, TA shifts focus from cost reduction to Throughput increase and optimization. Follow this link to know more.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) revisits Critical Path Method, the prevalent project management method that failed so far to get developers and project teams to finish on time. CCPM makes sure that projects finish on time and that, thanks to continuous improvement Lean and CCPM style, project durations can be shortened in future.
Logical Thinking Process (LTP) copes with system-wide complex problems. It provides logical tools and methods to surface and neutralize false assumptions, beliefs, conflicting objectives and the like that hinders the organization achieving its goal.
Giving a try with any or all TA, CCPM and LTP, will reveal new potentials and focusing points for Lean to exploit them. Lean isn’t gone soon.