Lean vs. Business Process Management – This Means War!

If it doesn´t make three people angry it isn’t a process!!  [Michael Hammer]


I have wanted to write this story for some years – it is about the problems when Lean and Business Process Management clash together in large organizations. Clash is often enough not the correct word; it is actually a war, with casualties on both sides (BPM and Lean). The largest casualties are time and money that are lost for the business, and the ability to innovate with the help from Business Process Management.

Throughout the years I have worked and been very enthusiastic about implementing Business Process Management from a strategic perspective.
Often, some organizations implement both Business Process Management and Lean – without coordination between the initiatives. That is most definitely NOT best practice.

This leads to some questions:


Q1: Can Business Process Management be implemented without Lean?

Yes of course!


Q2: Can Lean be implemented without Business Process Management?

Yes of course!


Q3: Can Business Process Management and Lean be implemented without coordination?

Yes – But it’s NOT a best practice example!

So where do we see the most value of both Lean and Business Process Management? It is, from my perspective, when Business Process Management leads the way by defining how Lean shall be implemented – here among notation procedure. Often the professional Lean specialists don’t agree – they don’t wish to be part of a Business Process initiative. It is almost like when two countries go to war – it can be bloody.

If Lean and Business Process Management work together, instead of fighting, then it is actually possible to link strategy to operations. Personally, I am more than convinced about the fact that Business Process Management must lead the way – and Lean should adapt! However, the Lean evangelist probably won´t agree…!

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By Anders Bang Christoffersen @ Process Wizard | February 5, 2013

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