Applying Lean Thinking and Practice to Systemic Racism

Christopher Chapman follows up his first article on systemic racism by tying the five lean principles to achieving antiracism.

  • Value vs. Waste
    • From an anti-racist perspective, policies, systems, and practices that produce and normalize racial equity are value-added. Those that create and sustain racial inequity between racial groups are nonvalue-added or waste.
  • Value Stream
    • For an anti-racist organization, this examination of our VSMs should also include whether policies and/or processes hinder the recruiting, hiring, developing, and promoting of people of color.
  • Flow
    • Defined as the progressive achievement of all the critical processes along the value stream so that Blacks and other people of color proceed from recruitment to retirement without discrimination, racist policies, or inequity.
  • Pull
    • Like an andon cord that is pulled for a defect on the line, when a Black employee is victimized by a discriminatory policy and/or actions, a pull system could activate a quick response Employee Resource Group (ERG).
  • Perfection
    • The ultimate goal to systemic racism would aim for zero racist policies, zero racial discrimination, and zero racial inequity.

Leaders must stay the course, create safe and brave spaces to problem-solve, and use their power, platforms, and resources to dismantle institutional barriers to the success of people of color. Doing so will help communities overcome systemic racism, unleash suppressed talent that has been undervalued and mostly untapped, and build a better world for all of us.

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