Lean transformations are not for the squeamish. Certainly not for the noncommittal. Yes, the unknown is scary…

We often talk about lean principles, systems and tools, but clearly that’s not the whole story. So, here’s another part of the story – without profound, unwavering and unambiguous leadership commitment (by the leaders that matter) ANY serious lean transformation effort is DOOMED.

If leaders can’t muster the courage to plunge forth (not talking recklessness), they will bastardize lean principles, fail to apply the requisite resources and time, delay and defer hard decisions, tolerate and often enable non-lean behaviors, etc.

In short, they’ll try to live with one foot in the present and one foot in the lean wannabe state. A sure recipe for disaster.

Noncommittal is not “transformative” and not inspiring. If the leaders aren’t committed, why would the rest of the organization go all in? And for those underlings who do go all in, they’re likely to suffer feelings of confusion, despair and betrayal. Not good.

I will leave you with some Mr. Miyagi wisdom from 1984 movie, Karate Kid.

Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I guess so.
Miyagi: [sighs] Daniel-san, must talk.
[they both kneel]
Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,”
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I’m ready.

Source: The Internet Movie Database

Related posts: Lean Leader Principle – Show Them Your Back, The Intrinsic Discipline of the Lean Leader