Respect for People: Lean’s Neglected Pillar

respect for people

Respect for People is one of the pillars of Lean and of our culture at LeanKit. We’re very proud of the respectful culture we’ve built together. It’s something that visitors and newcomers comment on when they talk about our company.

But, as I had to confess at a recent company meeting, we haven’t worked as diligently on defining and training people on this “soft” pillar of Lean as we have the “hard” Continuous Improvement pillar (by implementing tools like Kanban, A3, Stop the Line, automation, etc).

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Stop the Line: How Lean Principles Safeguard Quality

stop the line

At LeanKit, we have a very thorough process for quality assurance, but sometimes, issues with unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances (such as DNS providers, hosting services, etc.) can result in a critical issue affecting our software, which can have a significant impact on our users. This is why we choose to stop the line when critical issues arise — to stop, assess, and resolve the issue, and learn how to prevent it from occurring again.

We take these kinds of issues very seriously, since a relentless focus on delivering customer value is at the core of everything we do. Read to learn how we employ Lean concepts at the organizational level to tackle potential issues head-on, address them quickly, and use them as opportunities to make our product — and our people — stronger.

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How Lean Improvement Methods Enable Respect

lean improvement methods

Growing up Vietnamese-American, I was taught to honor and respect people, never to waste anything and to always think beyond myself. I was also taught to hide conflict and to ignore problems, especially if had to do with someone senior to me.

I learned quickly that honor and respect cannot last without surfacing conflict and proactively resolving issues. At LeanKit, our culture starts with people. The diverse, quirky personalities in our company are allowed to shine through — they make us who we are.

But our traditions go deeper than bacon, Doctor Who, and Nerf guns. They’re rooted in an intrinsic hunger and drive to work together to improve the way the world works. We know that respect for people is one of the most effective Lean improvement methods, which enables us to maintain our agility, and adapt to change quickly and sustainably.

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LeanKit Summer Pull Planning 2016

LeanKit 2016-06-45

More than 130 LeanKit employees from across the country (and even some from across the pond!) gathered at HQ in Franklin, Tenn., last week for a time of learning, collaborating and planning for what lies ahead. As a nod to our Kanban roots, we’ve named these weeks “pull planning” sessions, which serve as a time to reflect on our progress and align on what work we’ll pull next.

About one third of our employees work remotely, so we all cherished this week as a rare opportunity to have the whole company together.

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The T-Shirts of LeanKit

tshirts of leankit - company culture

Our mantra at LeanKit is “You don’t need permission to be awesome.” We’d like to think this phrase extends from the workplace into our personal lives, and more specifically, to our personal style. Walk into our office on any given day, and you will see the many T-shirts of LeanKit.

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How LeanKit Says Thank You

I think Matthew McConaughey said it best in his recent Oscar acceptance speech: “It’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.” Award shows beg these types of statements, but our hectic day-to-day schedules often cause us to forget to say “thank you.”

Today’s cultural standard is to work harder, faster and longer. With the advancement of mobile technology, accessibility and a swift response time aren’t only expected, they’re often required. While companies might be reporting higher productivity rates, a recent Gallup poll shows that 65% of participants felt under-appreciated at work and disconnected from their co-workers.

It turns out that “thank you” goes a long way. Gratitude not only fuels the soul, it also contributes to a company’s bottom line by decreasing turnover (workers who feel appreciated are less likely to be actively searching for a job) and increasing productivity (happy workers are productive workers). Studies have also shown that people are more likely to repeat behavior that is rewarded and appreciated.

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New HQ Fosters Cross-Team Collaboration, Epic Nerf Wars


LeanKit’s new headquarters, a former antique mall in downtown Franklin, Tenn., comes with a creepy attic, a mysteriously nailed shut crawlspace and some pretty righteous Civil War tales. Oh, yeah. And maybe a ghost or two.

As awesome as all that is, we’re most excited about being under one roof again. Since mid April last year, our quick growth had split us between two locations.

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