Posted on December 1, 2015 · Posted in business, business model, Leadership, Lean, Lean Thoughts, Uncategorized

sustainableIn 1999, as I was finishing my master’s thesis, I came across a small company: Title 9 Sports.  Their name has since been changed to just Title Nine (, but from its outset, Title Nine’s founder, Missy Park, has been on a mission.  Nearly 20 years later, Missy is still on that mission.

So, why write about a women’s sports apparel company in a blog on Lean?  The answer is easy: Toyota Principle #1.  Let me explain.

Toyota’s first principle states: “ Make your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.”  Missy’s recent blog on “Sustainability” embodies that principle.  In it she states:

“As we’ve grown, we’ve sought sustainable growth, growth that we could fund with our own internal resources. We have no outside investors and try to avoid bankers. We have come to find that most investors will drive us to grow at a fast, often wasteful and always unsustainable rate.”

Can you see the linkage?

One of the core reasons that the US has been so sluggish in its adoption of Lean is that our business climate makes it nearly impossible to follow principle #1.  The result is that the majority of our businesses are driven to grow at a pace, and in a direction, that maximizes short-term financial goals.  As Missy states, that methodology is unsustainable.

Can we change that?  Absolutely!  Let me say that again, ABSOLUTELY!

Not only can we change it.  I’d argue that we must.

I have my thoughts on how we reverse the tide, but I’d enjoy hearing yours.