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The Lean Way to Go Green

“Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.” Principle 1 of “The Toyota Way”, by Jeffrey Liker

A company’s decision to “go green” might be the best example of Toyota Way Principle # 1.  While the costs of fixing climate change are short term and primarily local, the benefits of doing so are long term and provide a global impact.  

There are many theories, methodologies, and strategies that debate the best way to become a green business.  We’re interested in how lean companies can become green, and that will be the focus of this blog.

Lean companies are not green by default.  Similar to how lean companies strive for built-in quality by refusing to tolerate defects, “Lean Green Companies” have sustainability baked into their systems without a higher cost to customers.  Lean Green Companies don’t just deliver a green product, but work tirelessly to ensure their entire supply chain and internal systems are green throughout.

The strategy to become Lean and Green will be different for every company — our goal here is not to deliver a one-size fits all solution or product.  With this blog, we hope to provide the inspiration for more companies to become sustainable by showing examples of what can be accomplished, but more importantly, how other companies and their people think.

Our natural resources may be limited, but ideas and innovation are not.  At the heart of Lean thinking is that there’s no limit to people’s creativity.  We’re interested in discovering how a company can rally to embrace long term, whole-system, cyclical thinking and shed linear, goal-oriented thinking.  Michael Ballé says it best, “Lean is about helping people think more deeply about how they work, for whom, with whom, and how to reduce the waste work generates.”  

The combination of managing our food supply, conserving water resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions may well be the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.  These problems won’t solve themselves, and they’ll continue to get worse. I hope you’ll join us at the Lean Green Institute as we explore solutions to these problems from a Lean and Green lense.

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