I've long been a critic of things like six-sigma, business process reengineering and lean. My critiques have ranged from how easy it is to misapply these approaches, flaws in the underlying assumptions & theories, and the well documented lack of results (or the lack of well-documented results). I always tried to be careful not to say these approaches are worthless or never work... just that they're largely oversold, overapplied and overstated.
As previously mentioned, I recently had a chance to attend an in depth 2-week class on Lean (and that other stuff too). I really enjoyed the class and have been pondering the lessons ever since. Here are a few observations:
Business efficiencies allow us to do what we were hired to do in the first place (i.e. be awesome) and not get distracted & dragged down by low-value activities. In a non-efficient place (i.e. just about everywhere) not much happens on any given day even though everyone's busy.
Doing things the right way should be easier than doing them the wrong way.
This stuff has to be strategic if it's going to work. If we get distracted by questions of how many printers to have and where to put them, we might overlook the fundamental question - whether we really need to print things in the first place.
Even when this stuff is taught well, it's still frighteningly easy for a group to wind up labeling all the staplers and cleaning out the supply closet, rather than making truly significant improvements.
More to follow, I'm sure...