Respecting Lean

I become annoyed when I see references to things like “Lean Marketing”, “Lean Strategy”, etc. Wrapping every business function in a Lean mantra distorts the true meaning and value of Lean thinking.

No one has greater admiration for the power of Lean manufacturing principles and tools than myself. At the same time, I am aware of its limitations. While Lean can be successfully applied to many business processes, it is important to remember that it is not the process itself.

No one who truly understands competitive strategy would advocate such a thing as “Lean Strategy.” Formulating competitive strategy has little to do with applying Lean thinking. Similarly with the function of marketing. We can have marketing processes that have Lean characteristics, but it is not Lean that does the marketing.

Let’s not make attribution errors when we talk about Lean and misplace the power it has. And let’s avoid viewing the world exclusively through a Lean lens where everything that happens in a business has to have a Lean label attached to it.

Stewart Anderson



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