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 Lichtenstein and while talking to my interview partner in the car back to the railway station to catch my train back home on the day of the interview. 

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 of other companies on the market?

Is that all there is? Really?

Does the company live on 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?

(Most 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 sightedness).

Wouldn't it be possible to embed this resource saving into present day accounting even going into the 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;-))



PS.: The above applies of course to any organizational structure around the world!
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