Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
O’er Breyfogle, George, and other volumes of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my office door.
‘’Tis some Green Belt,’ soft I muttered, ‘working late on his R4 –
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And binders of Six Sigma projects lay like ghosts upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From “Lean Thinking” ease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lean lore,
For the rare and radiant flowing caused by using pure Lean lore,
Flow of process evermore.

Back to my Cox Comics turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a louder tapping, harsher than it was before.
‘Surely someone’s working late, trying to finish their last tollgate,
I don’t want to make them wait – I must this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Twill take a moment – nothing more!’

So I flung the doorway wide, and, without a glance aside,
In there stepped a stately figure I could not in truth ignore.
Not the least of hand-shakes made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
Bold and mute and unafraid he came within my office door –
Looked like young Shigeo Shingo coming in my office door –
Looked, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this silent form amazed me by the way his silence dazed me,
By the look of grave intelligence and utter thoughtfulness he wore,
‘Thou thy head be shorn and shaven, thou’ I said, ‘art sure no raven.
Ghastly grim and ancient maven wandering from the shop room floor –
Tell me what thy lordly name is, teacher, I do thee implore!’
Quoth the Sensei, ‘Nevermore.’

‘What?’ asked I, merely guessing what the Sensei was expressing
As his fiery eyes burned through my scattered R4s on the floor;
Was he looking for my A3s, did he doubt my CTQ trees,
Did he think my 5-Whys weak and my lead times so very poor?
‘What!’ I shrieked, ‘You think my methods and my computations poor?’
Quoth the Sensei ‘Nevermore.’

‘Trickster!’ said I, ‘Thing of evil! – Causing waste by this upheaval!
It’s not Pull that brought you calling! By the Flow we both adore –
Tell this soul with deadlines harried if, within locations varied,
Through deserts hauled or rivers ferried, I can find the lost Lean lore –
Perhaps a book that you have written, penned to share the pure Lean lore?’
Quoth the Sensei, ‘Nevermore.’

‘Be that word our sign of parting, foul-mouthed fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
‘Get thee back into the workplace and your own shop’s gemba floor!
Leave no A3 as a token of the word that thou hast has spoken!
Leave me with my mind all broken! – quit the chair that’s near my door!
Take thy Wastes and 5S forms and take thyself right out my door!
Quoth the Sensei, ‘Nevermore.’

And the Sensei, not submitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
Near the photo of Jim Womack framed above my office door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

(With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem “The Raven” was written in 1845.)

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