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

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on April 11, 2017

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.


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