It’s easy to get confused between ‘means’ and ‘ends’. You can recognize this confusion when people ask questions like “When will our organization be ‘lean?” Or say things like “Our goal is to create a culture of problem-solvers”. Problem with this, is that whatever your organization does, it’s purpose, the underlying reason it exists, is to serve customers, the customers that buy your product or service, whatever that might be. That is the ‘end’. Creating better ways to serve those customers is the ‘means’, or ‘the how’…how we do the work, and how we care for our customers when they need our help. Creativity and lean can both help us there: first to get new ideas for products and services our customers might not even know they need yet, and next, to turn those ideas into reality so that they can benefit our customers, our company and the world. To work towards fulfilling our purpose – as organizations and people – we need to have a vision of ‘the end’: where we are going and then, we need to figure out the ‘means’ to get us there that will benefit the most people because, as I always say, “How we get there is as important as where we are going.”

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