As most of us know by now, Osama Bin Laden has been found and killed. This is a great day for the World Trade Center families and survivors, for America, and for the world.
So, to keep within the context of lean manufacturing and process improvement in general, here are the 10 Things Osama Bin Laden and the 7 Wastes of Lean have in common:
- Wastes and Osama Bin Laden hide in plain sight: Osama Bin Laden had been hiding in a Mansion in Pakistan, but we were searching the hills, mountains, and caves of Afghanistan. He was hiding in plain sight.
- Wastes and Osama Bin Laden are resilient: Osama Bin Laden has been on the run for almost 10 years, all the while the lifestyle of people around the world changed in response to terrorism. Wastes forces us to adjust to its presence.
- Wastes and Osama Bin Laden cause major disruptions in systems: Wastes forces an organization to adjust, often the people in the organization do not realize it. Osama Bin Laden has forced America and the world to adjust to his threat of terrorism.
- Wastes and Osama Bin Laden are eliminated by people with extensive training: SEAL Team 6 took out Osama Bin Laden with precision and accuracy. To identify and eliminate wastes, it requires training and experience in lean manufacturing.
- Osama Bin Laden is not fancy and neither are the 7 Wastes: Osama Bin Laden wears humble clothing and isn’t fancy (except for the Mansion thing). Similarly, wastes doesn’t call out “hey, I’m here” – wastes hides well and is unspotted from the world.
- Osama Bin Laden works through a worldwide affiliate network; Wastes becomes part of a system, without us knowing it: In an organization, inefficiency and wastes becomes part of a process, not in addition to the process.
- Wastes Costs the organization a lot of money; Osama Bin Laden has Costs America and others a lot of money: Yes, a lot of money in defense, intelligence, in countermeasures to prevent disaster such as added security measures at the airport. A lot of money.
- Osama Bin Laden and the 7 Wastes of Lean are silent killers: Often through surprise, the organization isn’t aware that it is slowly dying because of the hidden inefficiencies. Similarly, Osama Bin Laden quietly works in the background with the sole aim of destroying America and others.
- Wastes and Osama Bin Laden are unpredictable and attack when complacent: they attack when we least expect it – usually when we feel all is well and complacency has set in; when organizations become complacent, then that marks the best time to attack.
- Osama Bin Laden is a figurehead and his capture and killing was symbolic, but the fight against terrorism is not over: similarly, once a prominent waste within a process or company is taken care of, that is just the first layer of work; uncovering the many other layers will require more work in the application of lean manufacturing.