Really Bad Article on Lean

Rick Bohan
26.03.2015

I often go on (and on) about the fact that much (perhaps, most) lean literature isn’t very good.  It too often tends to be boring, cliche, repetitive (if I have to read or hear about Eight Wastes one more time…), shallow…did I mention repetitive?

But little of the literature in lean is as bad as this article (I hesitate to link to it because, I gather, that gives it some “Google credibility”, i.e., more folks are likely to find it via web searches.  But, here goes…): The Secrets of Lean at The Lean Post.

What’s wrong with the article?  Well, apart from the fact that it’s nearly unreadable, and apart from the fact that, under all that shrubbery, it doesn’t really say much that’s new (Those who are closest to a process or system will understand it better than those who aren’t…got it.), and apart from the fact that a primary premise of the article is wrong (Knowledge and understanding two separate and distinct things?  Who knew?)…apart from all that is the fact that it seeks to obfuscate and muddy rather than to enlighten and make clear.

Lean isn’t easy or everyone would already be successful at it.  But lean is straightforward.  Articles like this make lean manufacturing seem to be some arcane, tough to understand field of study and practice that only “we elites” can hope to grasp.

Here’s a suggestion to anyone who wants to write or speak about lean manufacturing principles and methods:  Lean manufacturing, though straightforward, is already challenging enough.  Don’t add to that challenge with abstruse baloney.

Update:  Well, it seems I struck a nerve with one of the authors.  He left a profanity laced comment that didn’t counter anything I said about his article, rather made it abundantly clear that he thought I was a mean person and that I should just shut the…heck…up.

And, yeah, maybe my post was a tad harsh.

But those of us who arrogate to ourselves the task of educating others regarding lean principles and methods have a responsibility to make sure we are adding value.  And part of that responsibility is carried out by assuring that we are writing and speaking in a way that is both accessible and clear.  The authors of that article didn’t carry out that responsibility well and I chose not to ignore it.  By the same token, I hope readers who feel I’m not being accessible or clear in my language will call me on the carpet for it.  I promise I won’t send you an email full of schoolboy insults in response.

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