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The Cost Management Journal goes female: An all-women’s perspective on lean management

The January/February 2020 issue of Thomson Reuters’ Cost Management Journal features an entirely women-authored issue devoted to lean management.

The journal focuses on lean management principles practiced by CFOs, CEOs, CIOs, controllers, accountants, and other financial managers, as well as non-financial executives and managers (such as those in marketing, sales, IT, and HR).

The content in the journal underscores the ultimate purpose of lean management: to provide information that companies need and the value, quality, and timeliness that customers demand in a global economy.

The authors for this issue come from different industries and from around the world. Here are highlights from four key articles:

  • Karyn Ross, the owner of Karyn Ross Consulting, starts the issue off with an article titled, “Lean and Creativity: The Perfect Combination.” She makes the case that, despite the perception, lean management is not a rigid methodology or merely a set of tools to remove waste and speed up processes. Instead, “lean is about constantly creating new and better ways to serve your customers and fulfilling your organization’s mission,” she writes. Ross, based in the U.S., is also an artist, award-winning author, and internationally acclaimed coach and consultant.
  • Janine P. Muir, from Australia, authored the article “Lean Is a Journey, Not a Destination for Internal Audit.” The article identifies the true value of a lean internal audit process for all organizations, including the value-added proposition of continuous auditing and agile internal auditing. Dr. Muir is a lecturer in accounting at the Swinburne Business School and a CPA with 15 years of industry experience encompassing transport, logistics, and publishing.
  • Becky Morgan, author of the article “Integrating Emerging Technologies into the Lean Enterprise,” looks at today’s emerging technologies (such as the cloud, the “Internet of Things,” and blockchain) and how these innovations apply to the lean enterprise. Morgan is president of Cleveland, Ohio-based Fulcrum Consulting Works and is an operations strategist for midsize manufacturers based in the U.S.
  • Rose Heathcote, from South Africa, writes the article “The Truth About Lean,” arguing that to transform a company into a lean organization, leaders must be willing to become supportive teachers and foster a safe learning system in which employees can learn and grow from their mistakes. Ms. Heathcote is the author of management books, Clear Direction: Drive the Right Change in the Right Way and Making a Difference: Streamlining Patient Care and Liberating Resources.

Also contributing to this issue were Cécile Roche, author of “Lean: The Business of Bosses” from France; Crystal Bechler, author of “Creating Production Velocity with a Lean Pull System” from the United States; Natalia Maslova, author of “Standard Work in Lean Transformation Program: Financial and Cultural Benefits” from Russia; and Florence Meunier, author of “Value Steam — A Critical Component in Digitization!” from Italy.

Embracing diverse perspectives

This special issue of Cost Management Journal illuminates the value of embracing diverse perspectives on problem solving. In Heathcote’s case, for example, her viewpoint on creating a lean culture that fosters a safe environment in part evolved from her South African heritage. “The transformation we’ve undergone as a nation is profound,” she writes. “Since the release of Nelson Mandela when I was just a teenager, we’ve witnessed a significant change in who we are and how we appreciate human potential.” Because of this cultural history, South Africa has evolved to embrace diversity, Heathcote adds.

women

For Ross, her experience as a creative individual inspires her unique approach. “I view lean through the lens of divergent thinking — generating many diverse possibilities… not convergent thinking,” she writes, adding that her female perspective “bring[s] the ‘person-human-creative’ side together with the technical/tools.”

When asked about the perspective of lean management through the author’s gender lens, the authors’ responses underscores the variety and uniqueness of the talent landscape of professionals in lean management and demonstrates the value of a wide variety of viewpoints.

Bechler, a continuous improvement manager at TC Transcontinental, says her involvement in lean management as a woman of the Millennial generation presents the “opportunity to bring the next generation leadership style to the table that promotes inclusion, asking questions, and uncovering better solutions together.”

Roche, the Lean Director of the Thales Group and author of the book A Little Lean Guide for the Use of Managers, discusses how women’s relational approach enables better problem-solving. “Generally, and for cultural or educational reasons, women are more interested in ‘the power for’ (making things happen) rather than by ‘the power on’ (people),” Roche says, adding that this changes the balance of power and helps to develop the ability to look at problems from different points of view.

Heathcote further explains that becoming a parent illuminated small differences between the genders that spilled over and influenced her approach in teaching lean principles. “As the mother of a young child, I prioritize differently than some of my male colleagues,” she says. “I approach learning and teaching in a nurturing way and fight for whole-person goals and work-life-harmony.”

This influences how she teaches lean management, Heathcote says. “I often encourage men and women to create balance in their lives and allow themselves the time and space to think.”


The Cost Management Journal is published bi-monthly and is available in print. It is also available on Checkpoint as part of Thomson Reuters’ flagship product, Financial Management and Controllership.

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