One of Our Problems in Promoting Lean is that the Press Misrepresents Lean

Rick Bohan

I’ve spoken and written fairly often about my insistence that lean isn’t about cost-cutting.  In fact, a focus solely on cost cutting is a barrier to an effective lean implementation.

I found another blog post (For the Last Time: Cost Cutting Isn’t Lean) that addresses this issue nicely.  It links to a relevant WSJ article (that you can’t get to unless you either register or buy a subscription, which is a pain, but…oh, well) that was obviously written by some dunderhead that hasn’t a clue…the smallest CLUE!…as to what the heck lean is.

Here’s the best part of the post:

“Neither is the infantilizing, management-directed, and disrespectful (to employees) cost cutting that the Wall Street Journal describes:

After chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. adopted it a few years ago, it scrutinized how much paper it used to print documents, how much soap employees used to wash their hands, and how much Gatorade hourly employees at one processing facility drank during breaks.”

That stuff just drives me nuts.  And it badly, badly represents what lean is all about.  I mean, where in hell did anyone get the idea that tracking worker Gator-Ade consumption has anything whatsoever to do with lean or continual improvement?  To be sure, I didn’t read the whole WSJ article and it’s possible that it was actually deriding such short sighted measures.  But I don’t think so.  WSJ is a good rag but I know of other examples in which it’s coverage of manufacturing issues left a lot to be desired.

In the end, WSJ may have done me a favor.  I’m going to start using the illustration above as something of a litmus test.  I’m going to show it to managers and ask if they think it’s a good example of lean practice.  If they answer yes…well, it’ll be an indication that we have LOTS of work ahead of us.


Leave a Reply