Ready to LEVEL UP?

5-Bullet Friday 03rd Sept 2021

5 Why in Lean - Keep asking questions
5 Why in Lean - Keep asking questions
The Average is Always Wrong

Noise | Holidays | Sunk Costs

Welcome to our 5-Bullet Friday where we share insights, learnings, tools, and tips on making changes happen.

If you are new to Leanscape, don’t forget to check out our online training courses designed for business professionals to level up their thinking and level up their careers! Visit our Lean Academy

Using Lean to combat Sunk Costs*

*sunk cost refers to money that has already been spent and cannot be recovered.

Nearly all companies have spent time, effort and money chasing after a project that should have been stopped long before. Even though we know that the project should be stopped, we have committed people, resources and capital into projects and have difficulty walking away.

One of the main reasons we continue to chase these projects is because leaders and managers will have committed to the project and in some way linked their own professional success with the success of the project.

Walking away from projects and admitting they do not work could amount to professional suicide.

What Lean asks us to do daily, is to figure out where we can create the most value for our customers.

A culture focused on maximising customer value every day means we should not get trapped into projects which are no longer worthy of our time and our investment. Customer value replaces capital invested.

But we need a culture where “canning” a project is acceptable.

5 Why Thinking

5 Whys

If there is one tool that sums up root-cause analysis, it’s the 5 Whys. Simple to teach, easy to learn but a challenge to do 5 Whys well.

While the 5 Why might be taught in a linear way – just ask why 5 times and out pops a solution, it is actually multi-dimension. Every time you ask why you don’t end up with one response. You end up with perhaps 2 or 4 or 10 responses for each why. Before you know it, the first why has extended into a tree.

Each of these lines of enquiry needs to be followed before finally filtering out the possible root cause.

Learn more about the 5 Whys >

What Am I Listening To - The Power of Solution Journalism

This podcast, by the Center of Human Technology, is a great example of how framing ideas is just as important as the idea itself.

When driving change in organisations, we all need to focus not on the problems, but on the opportunities and how we present these opportunities.

A solutions story is defined by four qualities:

  • It must be about an implemented response to a problem, rather than just a person or an idea.
  • It must examine the evidence of success or failure — do we know how well this solution is working?
  • It must be informational and not just inspirational, by providing information to people experiencing the same problem.
  • It must also cover the solution’s limitations


“It is a turning from mindlessness to thoughtfulness, from dogmatism to self-scrutiny, from habit to deliberateness”

When Nacy Bauer wrote this in one of her essays, she was referring more to individual people rather than workplace culture but there is a lot to learn.

When our culture is to mindlessly do the same things, in the same dogmatic way that it forms a monotonous habit, no improvements are possible. These are workplaces where creativity is killed and the way to survive is for employees to keep their head down and not rock the boat.

But Lean Thinking is about being thoughtful about what you are doing. It is about self-reflection (Hansei) and always being deliberate in what you do. This is the culture where we transform. We can continually find better ways of working and where creativity and innovation foster.

What are we reading?

As some of you will know, I am a great fan of “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, and thankfully he has just released a new book called “Noise – A Flaw In Human Judgement”.

This book looks at why people make bad judgements and explores the level of “noise” in our decision-making processes and how we all suffer from cognitive bias.

What is interesting is how this “noise” level introduces huge variation into our business decisions, operation practises and ultimately the business results. These “poor” and “noisy” decisions, impact everything from medical diagnosis, insurance premiums to selecting the most suitable candidate for vacancies.

Now that the schools are going back and the summer holidays are over, we hope you have a little more time to invest in your professional development. So either get shifting with your current course, or get yourself booked into one of our courses and make the most of what remains in 2021.

Lean Academy

Enrol today and learn more about Lean Thinking

Join the discussion

No Comments

Leave a Reply to 5-Bullet Friday 03rd Sept 2021 - e-Learning Feeds Cancel reply

Lean Academy

100% Free Training Course

Looking to learn more about Lean? Take our Fundamentals of Lean course and learn how lean drives business performance.

Fundamentals of Lean - Free Lean Six Sigma Course Screenshot

Related Articles


Join our free webinar session, where we explore how Lean Thinking can drive business performance and accelerate your career.


Most Popular Lean Six Sigma Courses


WHICH COURSE is right for you?

Take our short quiz to find out which Lean Six Sigma Course is right for you. 

Subscribe to the Lean Thinking newsletter, and get 10% off all our courses and lean training sessions.