The Lean Systems Society, or “the Society” for short, is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to improve the world by improving its systems. The Credo of the Society appears elsewhere on this site and further describes this purpose. Our community nurtures and applies many forms of systems thinking in numerous domains and across five continents. The Lean paradigm, with its cognition-driven “people-first” worldview, remains at its core.

The Society is modeled after the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, which was created to actively encourage thought leadership in the sciences by honoring original thinkers and facilitating their collaboration and debate. It has succeeded in this mission for over 300 years. As has long happened in the Royal Society, this kind of interaction releases creativity beyond what anyone could have foreseen. We believe it is a good model for the Lean Systems community.

The Lean Systems Society has three key initiatives:

  1. Seeding focused communities in various systems fields (“The Limited WIP Society” is the first of these, centred on Kanban and Lean Flow, and is a highly successful example),
  2. Sponsoring the Fellowship of the Lean Systems Society, and
  3. Using the Society’s moral, technical and institutional weight to reinforce promising systems trends (using the principles of Complex Adaptive Systems theory).

These three areas provide many opportunities for everyone to participate and grow in leadership within the overall community.

Here’s some things people have already done to seed focused communities (the first initiative):

  • Starting a local chapter of a focused community. Many chapters of the Limited WIP Society have been founded around the world in this way. We also encourage sub-communities in other systems fields such as Lean systems engineering, complexity theory, and innovation.
  • Organizing a one-day gathering in a geographical area. It can range from informal to a full mini-conference. Scopes from a single topic (e.g., Kanban), to a mashup (e.g., Set-Based Design and Lean Startup), to a full range of Lean systems subjects are all possible.
  • Setting up a “Lean Coffee.” These informal sip-and-share gatherings are ideal for a quick recharge with others in the community. It’s a place to give back to others in their challenges, and also to mine breakthroughs for your own.

Many other projects are possible, and your creativity and energy is the key to developing them.

The Society is egalitarian in opportunity, free and open. It recognizes no division of the community into classes. The second initiative, the Fellowship, exists not for elitism but to accelerate growth in the state of system thinking by bringing together a concentration of proven thought leaders and community builders for focused (and often cross-disciplinary) interaction. Invitation to Fellowship comes from the existing body of Fellows, based on a history of significantly advancing the theory or practice of any of the Lean Systems disciplines, or an exceptional record of leadership in building the Lean Systems community. A combination of both is normally required for consideration. Anyone can build these qualifications by pushing the envelope of the Lean Systems disciplines in their work and writing, as well as by showing leadership and initiative in the community (for instance through the first initiative).

The third initiative is broadly worded to allow room for growth. The community has proven a sensitive detector of promising systems trends. The Society plans to use its influence and the connections it builds to direct attention toward such trends. The Society encourages the community to experiment with promising directions as they find them.

The Lean Systems Society will continue to brand and set the tone for conferences like the “LSSC conferences” of the last four years. These include an annual U.S. conference as well as regional conferences around the world. These conferences have been one of the most popular and productive outreaches of this community, and will continue as long as there is demand and commercial sponsorship to support them.

The Lean Systems Society has no paid employees. The Society is you, the community of Lean Systems thinkers; nothing more and nothing less. It is steered by your insights and fuelled by your energy. We hope you will find new and active ways to make the world a better place through better systems!

James Sutton, President

May 31, 2012