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Guess What. You’re Not Unique.

In my travels, I have lost track of how many people have told me that their situation is unique, or that their process is different. The truth of the matter is that they are right. Every process is unique, and every situation is different. But ironically, that very fact means that they are not.

Every person going through a Lean transition faces similar challenges. They have to adjust to change. They have to find a way to apply Lean principles in a creative manner. They have to find the time to make improvements in a busy environment. They have to figure out what their customers really want, and manage variations in demand. They have to deal with abnormal conditions. And they have to do it all in a way that doesn’t erode their job satisfaction.

Fortunately, we can put a positive spin on the lack of uniqueness. People are not alone in the challenges they face. Anything they are doing has been done by someone already.

What do you think? Are there any truly unique Lean situation out there?


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Share Your Thoughts    |2 comments|


  • Mark Welch says:

    I think the best way to deal with this with team members is to acknowledge the uniqueness of their particular circumstances, but to emphasize the fact that because they are unique, applying lean concepts will require them to actually think through their processes to make improvements – not simply cut and paste from other resources. The reason so many people like benchmarking is that they believe they can just copy what someone else is doing without giving it much thought or effort. Lean requires deeper thought to apply the processes to achieve the best possible flow (TPS = Thinking Person’s System).

    I get tired of the “we’re different” argument as well. It’s often an excuse for trying to resist change/improvement. What they’re often saying in these situations is, “Don’t even LOOK at my cheese.” Speaking of which, when I’ve anticipated resistance when beginning a team project I’ve sometimes shown the “Who Moved My Cheese?” video, then asked each team member who they want to be like during our time together – Sniff, Scurry, Hem, or Haw. This gives the team members a chance to think about their receptiveness to change and discuss it with their fellow team members – helps them understand one another better during the project.

    • Jeff Hajek says:

      I haven’t read “Cheese” in a long, long time. Hearing the names brought back memories.

      You hit the nail on the head, though, when you talked about acknowledging the challenges of change and having a plan to deal with the resistance proactively. Too many leaders get surprised at pushback and take it personally rather than a natural response.

      Good to hear from you again, Mark.


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