Volume 19, October 2002: “Lean Does Not Have to Be Mean”

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2002 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Waste not, want not.” — Practical Wisdom

“Some see the cup as half empty. Some see the cup as half full. Good turnaround people say there’s too much glass.” —

“Thrift is too late at the bottom of the purse.” — Seneca

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” — Proverb


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Examining every organizational practive for ways in which it adds value (or not). Eliminating the non-value added.
  • Defining value from the customer’s vantage point. Seeking to win and retain customers by continually delighting them.
  • Removing “crud” – complexity, redundancy, unnecessary steps, and delays – from work processes, with the help of people who work in and understand those processes.
  • Becoming wise stewards of precious resources.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

If you truly believe what is said – that 40-60% of our budgets are filled with waste – doesn’t it behoove you to cleanse your organization? What if you conducted a campaign to reduce waste across the board.  Starting in your own office. Questioning why do we do this? Who uses this? What do they really need from me? Challenging everyone to remove one piece of “crud” every day – meetings, paper, time-wasters. Model the way. Celebrate with a burning ceremony (some have included their Policies & Procedures manuals in this).

Frequently Asked Questions

“Where do I begin?”
Your employees and customers know which processes are broken, cumbersome, needlessly complex and are total displeasers. Mine this database. Ask them.
“What are the most helpful tools in this undertaking?”
People must understand two things: (a) how to map Work as a Process and (b) how to identify the Customer(s) of a process and determine their requirements. Only then can they chart processes and begin to identify the non-value-added (NVA) parts. We use a VA/NVA Flowcharting tool.
“What is ‘non-value-added’?”
Some examples are:
  • a step resulting from something that went wrong
  • a correction ( a do-over, rework)
  • an anticipation of some thing that could go wrong (pre-inspection)
  • defects, errors, omissions
  • waiting – for inspection, approval, for the next step
  • non-essential steps to deal with defects, errors, omissions, waste, storage
  • steps needed to conduct the “business” of the organization )not to meet customer needs
  • steps with no purpose
  • unclear steps


Join us in learning these tools in Key Associates’ Creative Tools and Methods for Innovation.

GOAL/QPC has an excellent resource for additional tools, “The Lean Enterprise Memory Jogger.” Visit GOAL/QPC Products.

Register for workshops or buy practical workbooks that answer the questions many of you have about implementing lean: Lean Enterprise Institute.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

In the Lean Forum’s interactive website, access one minute lessons, case studies, working papers, books, and each other. College of Business Administration, University of Tennessee.


  • Davis, John W. Leading the Lean Initiative: Straight Talk on Cultivating Culture and Buy-in. Productivity Press, Inc., 2001.
  • Gordon, Pamela JJ. Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and Environment. Berrett-Koehler, 2001.
  • Herman, Roger E. Lean and Meaningful: A New Culture for Corporate America. Oak Hill Press, 1998.
  • Holbeche, Linda. Motivating People in Lean Organizations. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998.
  • Lewis, Audie G. Streamlining Healthcare Operations: How Lean Logistics Can Transform Healthcare Organizations. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2001.
  • Liker, Jeffrey K. Becoming Lean: Inside Stories of U.S. Manufacturers. Productivity Press, Inc., 1998.
  • Milgate, Michael . Alliances, Outsourcing and the Lean Organization. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
  • Worthy, James C., Moore, David G. (Ed.) & Greenwood, Ronald G. (Ed.) Lean But Not Mean: Studies in Organization Structure. University of Illinois Press, 1994.
  • Wright, Lesley & Smye, Marti. Corporate Abuse: How “Lean and Mean” Robs People and Profit. MacMillan, 1996.


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