It seems to be popular these last years and more recently to explicitly state that Lean is not (only) about cost reduction or cost cutting. See the recent posts by Mark Graban or Matt Hrivnak. So let me be somewhat controversial in this post (which I think is allowed to spark the discussion) and drop a bombshell: I think Lean is about cost reduction.
Now I can’t of course argue with the interpretations that people may have when they read about cost reductions, and surely, generally it will have negative connotations. But it is interesting, still, to contrast these thoughts with the original ideas about what now is called Lean, by going back to what Toyota, Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo said and wrote about this topic in the period when the world first started learning about the Toyota Production System. Then when going back to the origins and the intent of the TPS, there clearly is strong focus on cost reduction. So how does this match up, one might wonder. A post trying to close the gap between cost reduction how it is often practiced, and understanding cost reduction as intended in Lean. (more…)