Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lean Thinking - what is the connection with sustainability?

Talking to a friend in Denmark earlier tonight we ended up on the question, "Lean Thinking - what is the connection with sustainability?"

To be honest this question is spinning in my head for about four months when I was driving home from an interview in Austria and while talking to my interview partner in the car back to the railway station to catch my train back home. 

What does "LEAN" really mean? Doesn't it mean reducing the in processes inherent existing waste (also called MUDA -to use a technical lean term;-)) in order to fulfill customer needs (reasonable priced product delivering all customer needs) and also to save money for the company in order to improve the competitiveness against other companies on the market.

Was that all there is? Really?

Does the company live for its own and has all the necessary resources to turn them into customer demanded products/ services? I guess that not the way it is in this world. Through a chain of suppliers the materials come naturally from somewhere on our world (mostly originating from natural places, like ore for the making of steel, forests for the making of paper). 

My question: Reducing the use of raw material (such as ore or wood) doesn't have an impact on the overall world resources balance, does it?

(Mostly companies act on that assumption, as they are not "thinking lean" and waste a lot of material forcing the customer to pay for their short sightness).

Wouldn't it be possible to embed this resource saving into present day accounting even going into public necessity?

Just a little out-of -the-box thinking about current ways of making money by organizations and how they could be changed in the future;-))

Best

Ralf

PS.: The above applies of course to all organizational structures of human beings around the world!
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