Why Is Lean So Difficult Part I

wrong tool for the job

“Going Lean” can be very exciting for a company because of the results it can produce.  An engaged workforce, reduced costs, faster delivery times, better quality, and a competitive advantage in the market place to name a few.  You hear companies like Toyota using it to compete in a very difficult industry, or Virginia Mason Hospital using it to lower costs.  However in an Industry Week Survey only 2% of companies that do Lean get the results they wanted from it. Why is it so difficult then to get the results you want?  Most surveys that you see point to the fact that changing culture is the number one challenge behind Lean.  When doing Lean most people don’t actually have any tools to even begin address the cultural elements.  So what all feeds the culture and what do you need to focus on as an organization when you do Lean?

Factors to can cause a culture not to reject Lean

  • No Strategy
  • Low number of people involved with the change process – usually people at top trying to push it down
  • Focus on subjective points like attitude vs. objective points like demonstrated behavior
  • Focus on just procedures vs. the outcomes
  • Change is viewed as a disruption of work
  • Compliance is enforced vs. trying to get commitment
  • Lack of commitment to the cause – a “not my job” mentality
  • Change is too slow
  • Changes don’t get implemented and there are breakdowns
  • Being defensive towards change and having the approach of “decide, advocate, defend” vs. “listen, inquire, and co-create”

All of these items can be broken down into three categories.

  • Strategy
  • Momentum
  • Behaviors

In the following postings we’ll tackle each one of these and talk about how it relates to the factors that cause Lean to fail and how to assess where you are and how you can prevent failure from happening.

Related Blog Posts:

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Daily Meetings

Why Lean Fails Webinar

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About the Author:

Ankit Patel is a Managing Partner for The Lean Way Consulting and is based in the greater Atlanta GA area.  He combines his skills and expertise in Lean and Six Sigma that he gained in large and small manufactures as well as hospital systems with organizational development.  By doing this he is able to get stunning results for his clients that far exceed industry norms.

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