Last week I offered up a lean assessment tool and have been somewhat overwhelmed with the number of requests for it. The underlying principle behind it is that cultural fit is the most important aspect of employees, with technical skills secondary.


If you haven’t read it I highly recommend a fairly light book called “You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School: And Other Simple Truths of Leadership” by a guy named Mac Anderson. It reinforces the basic premise of lean culture and the importance of fit.

You can see some of the highlights in this short YouTube clip:

Of course you want to take the lean journey with the team you’ve ot but the reality is that just about every organization has a history of hiring purely for talent and finds that, when they learn that the core of lean success is the culture there are some folks that just don’t fit. The basic Toyota principle of respect for people and the idea of lifelong employment do not mean keeping people in the organization who simply cannot or will not treat others with respect, or to act as servant leaders. Not necessarily their fault or anything wrong with them – it is simply that the basic needs of the company change when culture becomes paramount and, as Bob Chapman at Barry-Wehmiller once said, some folks need to be told that they are better suited to make a contribution at some other organization better aligned with their skill set.

Among the gems in “You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School” are:

“If your company mission is to climb a tree, which would you rather do? Hire a squirrel or train a horse?”

“Attitude isn’t everything … but it’s pretty darn close”

And …

“Customer service isn’t a department, it’s an attitude.”

The lean journey is best led by the squirrels you already have and perhaps a few new ones you hire. There is no future in attempting to do it by training horses.