IDR Sustainable Workplace

Psychologically, commercially and environmentally viable organizations

Ben Moreland made the following statement on LinkedIn regarding lean space in the light of the preceding blog post:

"Great article Craig, interesting how this (i.e., lean workspace) has become such a focus when there lacks any evidence"

There was insufficent room to fully address Ben's point on LinkedIn, so here goes:

Indeed Ben,


It is easy to understand the business logic when viewed in isolation.  If you take everything away from the working environment except the work itself then, logically, people are bound to be more effective with nothing to distract them from the task in hand.

However we, like all animals, are emotional before we are logical and react well to an enriched space and badly to a denuded one.  There is no beast on the planet that thrives in a lean cage be it an ant, an antelope or an Antoinette.

Hardly anybody is going to set out to deliberately mess up their company.  Consequently simplistic heuristic, that sounds right and apparently answers business need, goes largely unexplored, is then accepted and so becomes the norm.  And lean is entirely simplistic, demanding little intelligence and fitting the perceived requirements (think of lean as a cost saving managerial Santa Claus).  It is also empowering for those that implement it.  So managers feel good on two intoxicating fronts. 

Like many intoxicants however, lean is very bad for you and published peer reviewed evidence suggests that it damages personal and corporate health.  There is no science that takes a contrary position.  

However so determined were/are lean’s advocates that we began our research in 2003 hypothesizing that they would be correct, flying in the face of all psychology, biology, medicine and neuroscience. So we can hardly blame others for doing so now.  It is scientific investigation that undoes this specious methodology.  However, one has to admit that lean's PR is superb, attractive; and hopelessly wrong.



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