Start With What You Believe

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at a refreshing one-day conference, the Lean Leadership Summit (, down in Irvine, CA.   The conference attendees were primarily from the manufacturing sector and yet (and I mean this respectfully) there was virtually no conversation or presentation associated with tools and methods of lean.  Rather, in each session and at breaks, we talked about “thinking”, beliefs, principles and behaviors.   The conference stayed true to its title “Lean Leadership”.

While I followed a couple of heavy hitting presenters, I was pleased to hear that we were in synch in our learning’s and stories told.  The common thread is that each of us needs to revisit our mental models of leadership before we charge down the lean implementation path.

I have yet to see sustainable successes when companies “do lean” in a command & control, stay in your office type of thinking.   We have to move from knowing to learning, from results only to process first, from telling to asking.   We have to PDSA our own leadership thinking!

We must first start with what we believe, which in turn will modify our language and our behaviors.  Only then, do we have a chance of becoming Lean Leaders.