Personally, I have been looking forward to the April edition of the Lean Management Journal. The theme of technology within lean brings on a series of interesting questions and has the potentially to begin discussions across the board.
I have seen examples of lean initiatives primarily based on implementing new machinery – both in manufacturing and service environments – as well as, lean implementations without any kind of supportive automatism. I will argue there is not one right solution, except starting by understanding what problem you are trying to solve.
Of course, you also need to know the contents of your toolbox, which includes knowing what problem the tool is designed to solve. If this basic knowledge is missing, how will you know if you design the right solution?
Looking at my 18-year-old son and his approach to solving issues, I see an approach completely different from mine. When I take pen and paper to sketch a solution and take notes he’s sitting with his Mac, when I look for an answer in a book he’s using the internet, when I discuss with people face to face in the same room he’s chatting with people from around the world, the list of examples goes on and on.
Like new generations find new approaches to old and new issues, we should also have an open mind towards technology and listen when someone suggests we try a new tool or new model.
In reality, technology is not an enemy of lean. If we are not willing to test new ideas and solutions, we actually forget the basics of PDCA. If our curiosity and willingness to learn and understand new things remains stagnant, we will face severe troubles.
I hope this edition of LMJ will challenge your thinking, ideally bringing new examples and perspectives into the on-going debate. I agree with the argument that technology should not be seen as an enemy to lean, it should instead be seen as a valuable input from a progressive and traditionally new-thinking industry helping to enlarge our thinking, leading us to find better solutions.
With or without the use of technology – do not forget the human factor!