A language they don’t understand: Lean in Spanish

Did you learn about Lean in Japanese? Why are we teaching it in Spanish?


Is making a translation sheet for terms rework or over processing? What about using it? Could we be more effective?


We had this feedback during process improvement work at a hospital with a clinician who previously completed her PhD on Jargon being a Power Differential.


Regarding our use of Spanish terms instead of English to teach lean concepts, she said whenever we use a foreign language:


- “it alienates people because you’re speaking a language they don’t understand.”

- “We do this in health care; it’s like we have a culture [the medical culture where we have our own language]”

- “we are not communicating in a language to understand [for end users like patients]”

- “It’s a culture we [medical professionals] all understand, and that myself {medical professionals] maintaining my own culture is more important than ensuring communication actually occurs.”

- “Speaking in another language unintentionally excludes those who don’t understand it.”


Does this promote resistance?


Are you focused on the end user of your communication if teaching something in a language they don’t understand?


What’s the feed back from your learner on language preference?


Examples of Spanish we use to reference lean:

Muda - waste

Kaizen - continuous improvement

Poka-yoke - mistake proofing

Heijunka - leveling

Jidoka - human autonomation (independence)

Sensei - teacher

Gemba - workplace

Hoshin Kanri - strategy deployment


We already use English for 5S;

Should we start using more Spanish terms? Why not?

There is an English translation for each Spanish term.


As continuous improvement leaders we set an example – and look for areas we can self improve; should we use the same language as those we’re talking to?


If during this article you thought “Why are they using Spanish?” -that’s how you audience feels when you use Japanese.


We welcome feed back on this – in a language we understand.