Kiyoshi Suzaki, a lean thinker who deserves to be at the top of any lean guru list, wrote:
Lean tools are common sense – after the fact.
I think that makes sense based on my observations. People see it, and they want to call lean “common sense”. Some organizations and I believe even books have called it “Common Sense Manufacturing.” Besides the fact, as Suzaki points out, that it’s not really common sense, there is a bigger problem.
By telling everyone that it is common sense, you are sending them the message that:
1. They lack common sense
2. They shouldn’t challenge it, because how can you challenge common sense.
3. Anyone not doing this probably doesn’t deserve to live, let alone going on working here.
Is that respecting people? Even if that doesn’t matter to you, will that be the best message to send if you want their buy in? At best what you will get is quiet compliance.
Taiichi Ohno said something a bit differently:
Common sense is always wrong.
This I believe is a more sensible approach to common sense. We must challenge what we think we know. If everyone is absolutely certain (think world is flat, 9 planets in the solar system examples), then no one is challenging it. And it’s probably wrong.
Don’t let your choice of words get in the way of your choice of purpose and vision.
What is your reaction when you hear “common sense” as a descriptor? What is your reaction?
For books by Suzaki and Ohno, check out these options: