The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.
― Masanobu Fukuoka
As we’ll discover shortly, a key concept in Lean is creating value from the perspective of the customer. But sometimes it is difficult to determine who the actual customer is.
Consider a company that manufactures components for a medical device. Is the customer the patient that ultimately uses the device? The doctor that prescribes it? The hospital that procures it? The company that assembles the device? Or perhaps even the employees making a living by manufacturing the component?
In a sense, all of those. The initial focus is on the next downstream customer, therefore the company that assembles the device, but organizations further along in a Lean transformation look at the value creation process throughout the entire chain, from their supplier to the end customer – including their employees.
For the purposes of this book I’d like you to think of the customer as your team… and you. We often focus so much on others that we forget to take care of ourselves.