Lean 2009 – What happened?

Put simply, the RSA (The Strand) was a perfect setting for probably one of the most efficiently organised and content appropriate conferences I’ve been to in the last few years. Rather than identify who I saw and single the speakers out one by one, here’s an overview of what I heard.  

Thinking about this the day after, I personally saw the three days as a learning exercise about Lean and as a management training exercise to help me.  


Certainly the speakers were passionate and interesting in their presentations, all with a variety of takes, persuasions and ideas of incorporating Lean Methods. The emphasis on flow, systems and waste were a common theme, though all translated in different ways. The reliance on using the Toyota example as the big success was somewhat concerning, as it would have been good to hear about other and maybe smaller examples from the recent past in addition. 

Mind you the Lean Wave is only a ripple currently and this is new and evolving in theSector, maybe the natural progression away from Agile? 


Several of the phrases and comments I wrote down are still prominent in my mind: 

– Leaders don’t manage or direct.

– Focus on process, not people.

– Kanban boards visualise what’s going on.

– Management is not a dysfunctional role to be ignored.

– Management has to be as committed as the teams.

– Got to build trust.

– Management or Stewardship? of the process

– Lean = Business Driven Enterprise Agility.

– Are we entering a regime of “Test Driven Analysis”?

– If you incentivise workers, you’ll get less!

– Unpredictable not predictable, Unpredictable is preventable.

– Have you ever seen a 5yr business plan delivered that ends in failure at the end of the plan?

– Waste is man-made.

– Target’s make performance worse.

– Toyota is the starting point, not the Holy Grail. 

There are a lot of things to ponder in the above list and you’ll definitely have your own take and interpretation of the phraseology. Many of these conferences and presenters are accused of saying the same thing, not the Lean folk – They have their own ideas and views…… 

This idea is straight forward in my view………. 

“Eliminate waste, have a system /process that works, don’t rely on people or tools and keep it visual with lot’s of common sense” 

Certainly the large companies, industries, public sector could do a lot worse than study the Lean Concept.  

So in a year’s time will Lean be dominating the world? probably not – maybe in two years !   

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