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Can LEAN Kill Growth?

Listening to the news from Davos 2012 this week you might think so. It would appear that there is too much focus on austerity these days and too little on growth.

Heads of the IMF and World Bank have joined other influential figures in calling on countries to implement more policies to encourage economic growth. Furthermore Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics didn’t equivocate about his feelings on austerity in the United Kingdom when he spoke with CNBC last Thursday: It has not worked. Turning to austerity as a new model for economic recovery was and is unnecessary “Austerity has not and will not lead to growth” Stern said, joining an increasingly vocal contingent of economists, both at Davos this week and elsewhere, who have sided against spending cuts as a strategy toward economic recovery.

That raises an interesting challenge for those of us in the Lean community who advocate Lean as a core business strategy – how can we position Lean as enabler for growth? Lean principles are considered by some simply as a way to reduce waste, increase productivity and save money.

Business leaders must not lose sight of the fact that the primary reason for applying Lean principles is not to cut costs, but to create capacity for things that customers truly value.  Lean is an enabler for growth; as business processes become more reliable, quality improves and capacity is created for more value adding activityIn essence doing more with less and enabling businesses to become more competitive.

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