Will the New SBA Administrator Be a Lean Leader?


Karen Gordon Mills was confirmed this week as administrator of the Small Business Administration. I’ve been reading about her background, trying to figure out if she will help promote the concepts of a lean strategy.

While she may not be a bad choice for the job, I see nothing in her experience to suggest she knows anything about lean.

For many years, she has been a successful leader of venture capital firms. She has a Harvard MBA and at one time worked for consulting firm McKinsey and Co.

It is hard to tell how much experience she has in actual business operations. Early in her career she worked in product management for General Foods. As a venture capitalist, she “took a leadership role” in some companies in which her firm invested, according to one profile.

In a statement at her confirmation hearing, she said, “In the mid 1980s, I was responsible for a number of traditional manufacturing businesses -- from plastic injection molders in Ohio – to a sub-fractional motor company in Arkansas. I was there on the factory floor when we had to weather the recession of the early ‘90s. Those experiences give me a deep understanding of what our small businesses need today to survive this downturn and to prosper in the years ahead.”

Will Mills be a friend of lean? Time will tell.

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