As lean thinkers work to eliminate waste – anything and everything in the chain of activities that does not create value for customers – it would be easier if the folks doing that unnecessary work would recognize that their efforts are no longer required and “go gentle into that good night”.   That is often not the case, however, and in Florida they are coming right out and growling about it.

Seems the beer distributors in the Sunshine State are the waste that is being eliminated, and they are pulling out all the stops in a desperate effort to keep that from happening. The mass producers in the beer industry – InBev mostly – sells through the distributors and they have had a difficult time battling the small, local breweries that often operate their own brew pubs and retail operations. Customers would like to stop in at the local joint and take home a half gallon jug of the stuff in what is called a ‘growler’. That cuts out the supply chain waste of trucks and warehouses operated by the distributors – jacking up the cost without adding a whit to the value of the brew.

Those whose living is made creating non-value adding waste aren’t going down without a fight. “But last session attempts to impose some new regulations on craft-brew distribution led to nasty floor fights and accusations that lawmakers were attempting to impose mafia-style ‘shakedowns’ on the smaller breweries.”

The same thing happened in North Carolina and other states when Tesla tried to sell cars directly to customers without the middle men of car dealerships. “Mr. Vaughn [a Tesla customer] said he doesn’t buy that dealers, which are behind a proposal to block online car sales in the state, are trying to protect consumers. ‘They are trying to protect their turf—like any company would.’”

Same thing with the brick and mortar retailers who have pulled out all the stops to force Amazon and other on line sellers to charge local sales tax. Perhaps a thin case can be made for the locals to charge a sales tax when I buy something from the local Walmart – the city, county and state have to provide police and fire protection to Walmart, and take care of the roads I drive on to get there – but there is no reason whatsoever for the State of Illinois to tack 6¼% onto the dog toy I buy online from West Paw Design in Montana and have shipped to my house.

To protect their role in the supply chain – no matter how wasteful it is – the people making a living in that space will use all manner of creative thinking to justify the need for them.   The beer distributors claim they are protecting the public health by keeping the brewers at arm’s length from people’s living rooms; the car dealers are protecting us from the evils of having the big auto companies exert too much control over the sale of the car; the local sales tax advocates are protecting main street jobs. They will use every bit of political clout to preserve their non-value adding existence.

While all of these are macro examples – entire business entities in the extended value streams – the same thing happens within the individual company value streams. Just try to tell the accountants who want to insert transactions into every step of the production process that they are adding no value; or tell the HR folks their policy manual is waste; or senior management that their budgets and review meetings are adding cost with no value.

Just try it … and listen to the braying and watch the all-out political efforts. Oh the gloom and doom with spending run amok without accounting ably standing in the breech; the lawsuits piling up as supervisors discriminate and abuse production folks and production folks suing the company at every turn without that massive policy manual to keep things in check. The wasters in the company will use exactly the same ploys as Tallahassee beer distributors and Raleigh car dealers to do whatever it takes to perpetuate the waste.

It would be nice if the waste would cooperate and “go gentle into that good night”. More likely they will “rage, rage against the dying light”. And there is the big challenge of lean thinking. Change does not come easy.