Simple. Leader. Lean. Zen.
At first blush, these four words have no obvious or apparent connection. Taken separately, I am certain that they invoke a personal connotation for each of us. Taken together, though, we may be hard pressed conjure up the same level of meaning. To my knowledge, they have never been used together to express a single unified concept.
Yet in order for a thinker to devote the kind of enormous time and effort required to conceive and produce a piece of work devoted to the connectedness these four terms, there must be a thread weaving the deeper ideas and philosophies behind them together in such a way that a swatch of fabric we call a book can be created.
There is, and it is Kevin Meyer’s great ambition to share that with us in The Simple Leader.
Rest assured, it is no easy feat. For me a leader is someone who creates meaningful change. Yet there is nothing simple about creating truly meaningful change, at any level. And the notion of meaningful change is necessarily considered with an eye toward the future. Yet the art of Zen centers on the present, and being present.
Too, the original definition of “Lean thinking” — as presented their 20-year old book by the same name by James Womack and Daniel Jones — holds the concept of perfection at its core, the fifth of five key principles. Yet in the Zen view, the concept of perfection is complex rather than simple in meaning, and not at all of the brand advanced in Lean thinking.
One might say then that Simple, Leader, Lean, and Zen are inherently conflicted, at odds with one another, and that reconciling them would entail a rather Herculean act of creativity. But creativity is the act of bringing something new into existence, the defining quality of which entails connections between seemingly disparate ideas.
This is the beauty of The Simple Leader. This is power of the Lean-Zen nexus. And this Kevin Meyer’s gift to all of us.
We would be well advised to honor it with the intention by which it was bestowed.
Matthew E. May