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Godefroy Beauvallet

Godefroy Beauvallet: Is there a “Lean Way” to look at one firm’s IT? Can IT be made to change towards lean? What would be the first steps in such a journey?

By Godefroy Beauvallet, - Last updated: Friday, September 3, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Lean is about creating a performance mindset, being aware of problems, and having problems solved locally as a way to develop people through problem-solving and fostering a “kaizen spirit”.

If one frames Lean that way, it seems hardly possible to practice it in any modern firm without getting across information technology questions: most of the work load nowadays is achieved using information systems (from emails to forms-filling); we use IT to report data, calculate indicators and analyze performance; alerts are often generated by sensors, sent through networks and treated by computers; amounts of data that can be used to analyze problems are stored in servers.

Nevertheless, the “IT pledge of productivity” is about standardizing activity through interface and global rules; global and instant deployment of improvements; light-fast circulation of information; availability of scores of data… And all this is very different from the “Lean pledge of productivity”.

Therefore, and empirical data support that, it seems that IT and Lean often ignore one another — Lean Sensei treat IT as a “Black Box”; IT Gurus look upon Lean as a soft management technique which they don’t have to bother with. Sometimes, IT and Lean collide and things get ugly. Rarely, Lean and IT people try and talk, as seems to be more and more the case with “Agile Development”. But this remains scarce and tentative.

How could this change ? Is there a “Lean Way” to look at one firm’s IT, and to make it change? What would be the first steps in such a journey?

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