There is endless conversation in the lean community about how "leadership" doesn't get it, or "accounting" doesn't get it, and so on...
It's true, but what are we doing about it? I got to thinking about the time I'm spending on so-called social media and thinking about how to use it to sell, and why we're not trying harder to sell lean itself. We do a lot of blogging and grouping and tweeting, but mostly preach to the choir.
How do we take the culture of social media, and use it to infiltrate groups unlike ours and spread some subversive ideas? I've written about "selling" on LinkedIn, and how learning is more important than getting clicks or pitching our services. I'd assert that pushing the lean message won't help, and could hurt.
In most LinkedIn groups, there's no barrier to entry. I've joined the CIO group, the IMA, and a couple of supply chain groups and general business groups. I can't spend all my time on that many groups, but I can check in from time to time and see if there are any discussions that could use a lean word or two. More important than mixing in the conversation, if I can hold back, is to read the comments and learn about the points of view represented. I can check the profile of someone with a set of beliefs that sound like they get it or don't and build a picture of job types and company types that are moving in the lean direction.
Sometimes when I add a comment with a lean slant (I often omit our buzzwords), other visitors add their lean-type experience. Or I can observe something like siloed thinking and ask about organizational boundaries.
Asking a sincere question can be better than commenting, but it's very easy to write a question that sounds canned, which implies some ulterior motive or other. There are a lot of people who join multiple groups, asking questions and getting in the conversation. They often ask the same question in different groups. Personally, it seems to me like they are engaging in self-promotion, not intelligent and respectful conversation.
Be careful. Imagine you're in the room with the other people you can see as active in the group and think how you'd ask them about what they think or do. By respectfully listening and learning, you also develop your understanding of where the "pain" is for people in their situations. When you encounter people in similar organizational niches, your ability to explain lean concepts in their terms will be better.
There are a lot of groups out there, many industries, many functional viewpoints. Mostly, they allow outsiders in. What's keeping us from walking in and meeting new people?
Picture credit: Alex Katz, The Cocktail Party, 1965