Every one of us wants to be connected to purpose. We want our knowledge, our creativity, and our energy to be in service of something that matters. We want our actions to be catalysts for positive transformation in the world. Unfortunately, much of our effort is squandered on actions that keep us busy and fill our life, but somehow are not in service of any real substantive purpose or connection with each other. When truly embodied, lean practice is a powerful framework for us – individually and collectively – to relentlessly shape and reshape our lives and actions in service of greater purpose. Our work and our (non-work) life are the hammer and anvil between which a purpose-driven legacy is forged. Lean, when truly embodied in all aspects of life, hones and strengthens our connection to our unique purpose and helps us manifest it more fully in the world.

If you are reading this blog, then you most likely are familiar with the core tenets of lean: create value, eliminate waste, and respect for people. Perhaps these are easy to apply intellectually to some process, but please allow me propose a more universal translation:

  1. Create Value – While “eliminate waste” gets most of the attention, to know waste you need to know value first. “Create value” means doing something that matters. It entails making your actions in service of either becoming your highest and best self or some positive change in the world around you. That is value.
  2. Eliminate Waste – Anything that detracts from our full attention and energy going into creating value is waste. Almost universally, waste is based on unconscious, habituated behaviors that maybe once-upon-a-time served some purpose, but have been left unexamined for too long.
  3. Respect for People – Only by respecting each others’ natural strengths, our hard-earned experiences, and our aspirations can we create something greater than the sum of its parts. While our unique skills, perspectives, and wiring makes us different, when integrated in the right way, these individual differences can help us create more holistic solutions, scale value creation, and make both the process and the end-product transformational for all involved.

Through this lens, let’s look at lean as a catalyst for positive transformation in life in general. This does not mean that we pull plan our preparations for a dinner party or put together an A3 for choosing the family vacation (although you certainly could). Rather, this means that foundational lean behaviors can empower us to be more intentional and create greater value in all aspects of our work and life. The three foundational lean behaviors I’m referencing are:

  • Leader Standard Work
  • Visual Management
  • Cadence of Accountability

These three behaviors are what make every lean tool, technique, and strategy to yield beneficial results. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many teams go through the motions (but not truly embody the behaviors) and come up short. I’ve also seen teams embrace the behaviors (while going through the learning curve with the tools) and have miraculous outcomes. Let’s talk about each of these foundational behaviors.

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Andreas is principal and founder of The Collective Potential, a catalyst for change at the organizational, project team, and individual level. His early work in building envelope systems provided him a holistic and integrated perspective (i.e. building science, design, constructability, and forensics). His subsequent doctoral work studied the social and technical factors affecting collaboration and integration in complex teams. Later, he worked at Balfour Beatty leading their research and development group in creating and scaling best practices across the US. All of these experiences have led to his current work and passion in driving transformational change through a mix of lean principles, depth psychology, and seeing every moment as an opportunity to realize more of our inherent potential.