One of the core beliefs within a lean culture is that acting with a long-term purpose produces better results than a short-term focus on financial results. In practice this takes the form of investing in people, customers, relationships, root cause problem solving, as opposed to various shortcuts in order to "make the numbers" quarter-to-quarter or by month.
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (How Thoughts of Money Lead Us Astray) cited a study, "Time, Money, and Morality" by Francesca Gino and Cassie Mogilner, Psychological Science (Dec. 6). The study finds that not only does thinking about money prime us to be more likely to cheat, it also suggests that the love of money makes us less apt to reflect.
Reflection, called hansei in Japanese, is another characteristic lean behavior. At each turn of the PDCA cycle of experimentation, learning and hopefully improvement, we must reflect on both the process and result, and then take actions to move us toward our desired goal. Primed to think about money and lacking reflection, we take a shortcut. We cheat. This is not a sustainable process. It is not lean.
The study found that thinking about money focuses us on self-interest while thinking about time helps to make us more generous, or other-oriented. The lean focus is also not self-oriented but other-oriented; the customer, the team member, stakeholders across the extended supply chain, the society. Time, and the better use of it towards fulfilling a long-term purpose, rather than shareholders, it turns out, is the focus of lean.
Love of money is the root of all evil; the rich man, the camel and the eye of a needle; you can't take it with you, &c. Time for reflection. Happy New Year to all.