Cross-generational mentoring is an excellent way to keep your Lean company ahead of the curve.

Ken Blanchard, Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, a highly respected leadership coaching organization, attributes much of his success to cross-generational mentoring. In the May 2017 newsletter, Blanchard reminds us that “given the accelerating pace of change, people can be great at what they’re doing today and be out of business tomorrow.”[1]

Blanchard, who is now in his late seventies, chose Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a 33-year-old former Twitter executive, as his co-author to write One Minute Mentoring. How many septuagenarians today would attempt to use Twitter effectively without asking a younger computer-savvy person for help?

Blanchard’s classic Lean statement is worth memorizing: “The only job security any of us has is a commitment to continuous improvement.”[2] Many Lean organizations have already learned that cross-generational mentoring is basic to Kaizen, or ongoing improvement. Although the younger generation can deliver the “wings”—futuristic versions of Lean’s strategies and techniques—without the older generation’s “body” of tested and proven results, the work remains both incomplete and unsubstantial.

One of the key elements of Lean Learning is flexibility. Commitment to perceive the value of change when necessary automatically builds flexibility and cross-generational mentoring into a Lean culture. It also provides an effective strategy for staying current with the latest trends.

Whether bridging the gap in making corrections on an assembly line or strengthening the connection between older and younger employees, cross-generational mentoring can provide expert solutions for improving and enhancing performance.

“By learning about commonalities and sharing across difference, both the mentor and mentee can grow in their careers and in job satisfaction,” states Stacy Blake-Beard, professor of management at Simmons College.[3]

Blake-Beard defines mentoring as “a dynamic, reciprocal relationship that is mutually beneficial, empowering and enabling. Through effective mentoring relationships, mentees gain improved job satisfaction, improved job performance, faster promotions and higher salaries, and overall improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Mentors also gain by developing better leadership skills, increasing visibility in the organization and enhancing their support network. In global settings, mentors can gain access to cross-cultural and often cross-generational knowledge.”[4]

Cross-generational mentoring is the wave of “today’s future today.”

About Lean Learning Center

The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees.

[email protected]
Phone: 248-906-8605


[1] Blanchard, Ken. “The Value in Cross-Generational Mentoring.”, May 2017.

[2] Ibid.


[4] Ibid.