Lean learning is a wake-up call for breaking old business patterns

Most of us have experienced at least one wake-up call in our lives. Many of these alarm bells are sudden while others are slow build-ups that once they sound off can be catastrophic, catching us completely off guard.

One thing we can safely say: most wake-up calls are triggered by the need to make changes either in the workplace or other areas of our life. If change is prescribed for an organization in which we play a key management role and we choose to ignore the red flags, we may be jeopardizing the future success of that enterprise.

Some of the most important chapters in Bill Artzberger’s new book, Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Charging Your Company & Your Life, focus on elevating change as a fundamental building block in the construction of any potentially successful lean enterprise.

Artzberger points out that change is “any type of learning is a self-conscious decision to change the way we do things.” Lean learning and a lean mindset are specifically focused on “intentional self-awareness” coupled with willingness to break patterns that have become obstacles to a company’s progress.

In the first of several examples of wake-up calls in Artzberger’s book that point out the need for immediate change:

Edgar Stern, a newly minted MBA from one of the country’s most prestigious business colleges, never envisioned a time when he would have to take over his father’s position as CEO of Stern’s Comfort Shoes, a family owned manufacturing business. Arnold Stern was a powerhouse of energy. He was also impeccable about his fitness routine, diet and lifestyle habits.

And then one day it happened: Arnold has a massive stroke.

Edgar soon realizes he’s in over his head, mainly because his father was a one-person show. Stern’s employees were accustomed to letting their boss take care of things. When problems arose, they reported them and if Arnold made no move to solve them, they were simply swept under the carpet. By the time Edgar takes over the business, many serious management and manufacturing issues can no longer be ignored.

Unlike his father, Edgar doesn’t hesitate to seek outside help. Research about lean business strategies leads him to Dr. Candace Silver, a certified lean learning coach. Under Candace’s skillful tutelage, Edgar becomes a dedicated student of lean strategies and technologies.

Artzberger takes the reader through Edgar Stern’s lean learning experiences, demonstrating his personal change in attitude toward the business and his role as its leader. During this process, Edgar begins to grasp a comprehensive view of Stern’s Comfort Shoes. He now perceives the urgency in overhauling many departmental operations “from the top down.” With renewed zest, Edgar gives his staff members and employees a new pair of eyes as well as a toolkit equipped with meticulously designed lean strategies for addressing each of the company’s current roadblocks.

After introducing lean’s 4 rules and 5 principles followed by a thorough understanding of the Lean Transformational Road Map, Edgar launches his first Kaizen workshop. For Edgar, lean is no longer a cosmetic fix-up or band-aid. It becomes the modus operandi for all aspects of the business.

At this point in the change process, Edgar starts to realize what Artzberger keenly observes for the benefit of the reader: “Lean learning is an ongoing journey toward personal and professional improvement. At the end of every success is another obstacle waiting to be perceived as yet another learning opportunity.”

LLC Bill ArtzbergerArtzberger’s leaning learning aphorism is perhaps the greatest takeaway in the entire book. If Kaizen is continuous and ongoing improvement, Kata is skillful practice of each of the newly-learned patterns—with built-in self-awareness that paradoxically, change is the only lean learning constant.

In summarizing the importance of lean and lean learning, Artzberger aptly quotes one of the world’s most prominent change-maker, American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Charging Your Company & Your Life, published by Dandelion Books, is available globally in hard copy and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all other major online bookstores. Distributed by Ingram Content Group, it is available by special order in all brick & mortar bookstores.

Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Charging Your Company & Your Life
by Bill Artzberger
ISBN 978-0-99667089-6-8
Business/Self-Help/Personal Growth
$US28.95, $CAN39.00