Why Lean Self is Not an Entrepreneurial Lifestyle

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This might be a surprise. Here comes this guy, telling you that Lean Self is using Lean Management practices not only in business but also for self-management. And the same guy says now, this is not an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

I have two arguments. On the one hand, the roots of the word “economy” — on the other hand, Lean has a lot of practices that are just common sense, scaled to industrial proportions.

First, the word “economy” stems from the ancient greek “οἰκονόμος.” Translated, that means “housekeeping.” This is what Wikipedia says about the word’s etymology:

The English words “economy” and “economics” can be traced back to the Greek words οἰκονόμος (i.e. “one who manages a household”), a composite word derived from οἶκος (“house”) and νέμω (“manage; distribute”) by way of οἰκονομία (“household management”).

The first recorded sense of the word “economy” is in the phrase “the management of œconomic affairs”, found in a work possibly composed in a monastery in 1440. “Economy” is later recorded in more general senses, including “thrift” and “administration”.

The most frequently used current sense, denoting “the economic system of a country or an area”, seems not to have developed until the 19th or 20th century.

Second, look at practices like 5S eliminating or waste . The Lean terminology is just a structured approach to things most people have learned as a child:

These examples show how common sense is taught to children and how it can be connected to Lean thinking.

There is one difference: the conventional way is to have a lot of “Do not …” rules. I would suggest to put value into the center of the rules instead and to use empowerment to achieve value. Have a look at Shirly Ronen-Harel’s and Danny Kovatch’s book “Agile Kids” if you want to see how Agile, which shares a lot with Lean, can be applied at home.

Other things are just natural to us or observable in nature:

Of course, there are some aspects of Lean which are not fully intuitive. For example, that inventory is waste goes against our instincts and culture. But remember, the ability to keep large inventory is fairly new in mankind’s history. In times of dire scarcity, inventory usually is both small and unavoidable.

Isn’t the continuous improvement part very entrepreneurial? Yes, but only if you look at it from the individual’s point of view. As a species, we only exist because of continuous improvement. At some time during our evolution, not only our bodies started to evolve, but also our minds. With the invention of invention (or earlier), mental processes became part of our evolution. Richard Dawkins calls that evolution of memes, and he does not mean funny pictures with witty text pasted upon them.

Unless a species ends up in a very successful niche (like sharks or crocodiles, which exist for millions of years) the choice is perish or improve. With individual humans it is the same:

But beware! Just like for sharks or crocodile — who are endangered by us humans today — you may discover that your comfort zone is threatened. So, even within a niche, continuous improvement may be the only way to prevent reaching a dead end.

Speaking of dead ends: Death is the final frontier. Unless some very disruptive invention finds a way to cheat it, nature has the last word. But his is a discussion that does not belong into this post. Maybe I will discuss it in a future post.

To sum it all up: Good businesses learn from the facts of life. That is called Lean.

So, you do not need to organize your life like a business. It is the other way round: If you improve yourself with Lean Self, you will discover lots of ideas for your working hours.

Tell me, what are your thoughts? Is Lean Self entrepreneurial or not? Why?6

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