Innovation & Continuous Improvement for Continuous Prosperity

We have all heard that change is accelerating and that the new normal is constant change. If you’re not evolving, you’re falling behind. This mantra is true for the services and products organization’s offer and the methodologies they use to improve organizational performance.

Lean and the continuous improvement mindset has been a powerful method for improving quality and efficiency. However, it has also become tired and showing its age since James Womack and Daniel Jones published Lean Thinking in 1996 and made Lean a mainstream improvement methodology. It’s not time to abandon Lean thinking, but it is a time for “Yes and…” Making your customer value proposition ever better will remain an integral capability for every successful organization. However, continuously improving what you do today will not ensure Continuous ProsperityTM.

Customer expectations and technology are constantly evolving and focusing solely on making today’s offering ever better will end in eventual disruption and potential extinction. The list of has-beens is long: Kodak, Pontiac, Sears, Borders, Blockbuster, Toys-R-Us, Midwest Express, Compaq, the “corner store”, PaineWebber, and on and on.

If you have the highest quality and lowest cost for something the customer no longer desires, Lean won’t help you. Lean provides an awesome foundation for continually improving your offering and establishing a management system to run your organization and sustain improvements. It doesn’t offer a lot when it comes to understanding the voice of the customer and identifying new offerings. Focus must be equally placed on improving products/services and understanding new and changing customer needs.

The disciple of Design Thinking can provide the missing constructs for Lean. I like to say Lean and Design Thinking are better together. Design Thinking was made mainstream in 1991 by IDEO. It offers a set of methods to understand customer needs that drive ideation and innovation. Lean starts with an existing process and looks to add, delete, increase or decrease. While Design Thinking starts at zero and examines the customer and looks to create something novel and unique to satisfy unmet needs. A perfect pair for Continuous Prosperity.

Blending Lean and Design Thinking enables innovation, efficiency and quality. While there are many differences between Lean and Design Thinking, they also share some common principles. The most surprising is that they both leverage a standard process to create repeatable results.

I’m conducting a virtual workshop to explore Design Thinking as a means to Innovation Leadership. I would love to have you join me to learn more. You can register here:


Sharing Our Lean and continuous improvement insights through our experience and learning.