At the Washington State Lean Conference, I spoke with an employee at the Department of Health who had just started her Lean journey. She said something that really speaks to part of the appeal of Lean. “Within my organization, we are finally speaking the same language.” She described how everyone, from the front-line customer service employees to the agency director are now communicating with the same set of tools. Using the concepts of Lean, the employees were able to share ideas and break down their organizational silos.
Part of Lean’s rabid growth is due to this cross-cultural appeal. Worldwide employers and employees want to be more effective with their work. Whether they are banks in Pakistan or machine manufacturers in Canada, businesses and organizations are embracing Lean because of its ability to improve their operations. By providing a common language within organizations, Lean allows people to overcome barriers, whether they are operational or cultural.
Because of its roots in the Toyota Production System, Lean is often tagged as a “Japanese efficency system,” but that does a disservice to its broad history of influential thinkers across the globe that contributed to its development. You can learn more about the pioneers of Lean in our Introduction to Lean series here.
Lean will continue to expand and grow as it is embraced by companies across the globe. The digital revolution has allowed instantaneous communication but did not guarantee understanding. This intellectual revolution, changing the way people think about their work, may very well provide the cross-cultural understanding necessary to facility truly effective international connections, simply by using the global language of Lean.