I recently cleared out the basement and found my company archives. Among the bills, receipts, and memos I found a old mindmap. It is, as far as I know, the first theoretical work on Lean Accounting and it’s dated 1998.
This has really stood the test of time. Bruce Baggaley did most of the thinking work on our development of the principles of lean accounting, and of course we got a huge amount of generous help from people in lean companies who were living it.
I’m in Savannah, GA today for the 10th Anniversary of the Lean Accounting Summit conference. There’s a lot of special speakers and extra activities, but I am thinking about years gone by. And I am thinking about eternity. When we first started to work on Lean Accounting in 1998 almost no one knew it was needed. Bruce and I tapped the knowledge and patience of generous experts and mentors, and created a lean accounting approach that made sense to us. Then we began to write, speak, and communicate Lean Accounting.
We worked with a few small and zealous lean companies and then got a call from Parker Hannifin. We worked for several years under the sage eye of Fred Garbinski, Parker’s lean accounting leader, and invested time in many Parker locations world-wide. At the very first Lean Accounting conference in Dearborn, MI we met up with Steve Desloge and his financial team from Watlow Manufacturing. They quickly embraced Lean Accounting throughout the company.
By this time the momentum had started and many companies kindly invited us to help them with these issues. Big companies like Boeing, small but dynamic companies like Buck Knives, and many many others of all shapes, types, sizes, and nationalities. We also got to know some of the pioneers who had made lean accounting a reality in their companies years before; people like Jean Cunningham, Orry Fiume, and Jerry Solomon.
And now, 16 years later and 10 annual trips to Orlando or Vegas, the momentum continues to gather and grow. Not a week goes by than I hear from one company or more that are using or starting Lean Accounting, and many have learned from seminars, webinars, books, and blogs and made their own paths of change.
I am of course frustrated. I want to see the power and simplicity of Lean Accounting flooding across all companies, all industries, and all countries. We still have a very long way to go, but the journey so far has been an exciting blessing.