Lean Leader

Experts in lean principles warn top managers against remaining in their own comfort zone – Death zone of mediocrity

June 11, 2013 | News Germany

50% of executives still see lean management as nothing but a hawker’s tray of methods, from which to cherry-pick a few choice bits. This error can quickly take a company into the death zone of mediocrity; this was the central message of the Staufen AG “Best Practice Day 2013” in cooperation with the TU Darmstadt. National and international experts at Europe’s leading congress on lean management all agreed: a company wanting to reap the profits of a change-over to lean management cannot avoid the sometimes painful change and development of its management and leadership culture.

“Very often, the weakest link are top managers who have not really understood the principles of lean management with its holistic approach”, was the blunt analysis by Professor Dr Uwe Loos, member of several executive boards and former chairman of Dekra AG and FAG Kugelfischer AG. “Companies limiting the application of lean principles only to the production process are still a very long way away from lean management.” Professor Dr Jeffrey Liker of the University of Michigan agreed with this assessment unreservedly. “In order to achieve lasting success with lean management, managers not only have to equip their staff with tools, but also have to enable them to solve problems independently”, explained the author of “The Toyota Way”, the international standard reader on lean principles. “This approach only works if companies develop their culture towards trust and respect.” Wilhelm Goschy, Staufen AG board member, said: “An important element of this change in corporate and management culture is the return of top management to the shop floor – known as Shop Floor Management. Only managers who regularly gather information on site know the processes within their company and can use this knowledge for successful and purposeful leadership.” Goschy’s urgent advice: “In order to achieve this relation with reality which is essential for survival, top managers have to move out of their own comfort zone.” At the Staufen AG Best Practice Day in Darmstadt in early June 2013, leading global experts in lean management presented the current state of research on the topic as well as numerous successful practical examples.  For audio and video contributions with highlights of the conference as well as interviews with experts, please visit:

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