Is Talent or Process Vital to Lean Success? It’s Not Really a Choice [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 04-11-17

Lean equals process improvement, right?


Lean is about people. We improve processes because bad processes beat good people. Good processes enable people. Good processes improve our consistency. But will a great process deliver greatness? Probably not, because talent is still required.

This column for IndustryWeek, titled Is Talent or Process Vital to Lean Success? It’s Not Really a Choice, has gotten a lot of attention. It started as a rant more than a thought. That rant was a dual-reaction to two extreme views. One is too many people that value lean that think that talent should be plug-and-play, that talent doesn’t need to be cultivated, that process alone determines performance. The other reaction is to people that value talent thinking the process and lean don’t matter; just unleash good people and magic will happen. Both views are wrong, and dangerously so. talent

Here is an excerpt from the column:

Talent is responsible for its own improvement. Your talent should hold the primary responsibility for their own development. A lean thinker is looking to improve their talent in any skill that matters. When I started joining companies’ boards of directors, I pursued my leadership fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors. Earlier this year, in the pursuit of improving as a youth soccer coach, I achieved my national diploma with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Each year, I establish goals for my own learning based on areas that I want to develop. More often than not, they are about building on my strengths rather than fixing a deficiency.

So, do your processes get in the way of talent or leverage it? Does your talent understand process and value it? Process and talent go together to make organizations stronger.