Why Lean Transformation Fails

Lean strategies in businesses are quite an interesting phenomena because they have been proven to be extremely effective at increasing productivity, yet most companies who attempt to implement these strategies fail within the first few months.  There are countless examples of companies having their productivity go up by 20% – 60% when using these strategies.

When done properly this increased productivity starts within days or weeks of implementation and reaches the full potential within in months.  On the other hand, estimates suggest that anywhere from 50-95% of companies who attempt undertake a lean transformation fail within the first several months of the process.

Free Kaizen GuideThe reason these companies are unable to successfully implement such a positive and proven method of doing business is important for any company considering this transition.  Knowing what causes others to fail can help ensure the success of your facility’s transition.

The following list includes some of the biggest mistakes that are made in the initial phases of implementing a lean transformation.  If you can avoid most or all of these you can virtually guarantee you’ll see amazing results.

  • No Involvement from Leadership – When attempting to make major changes in any facility it is absolutely essential to have the necessary commitment from your leadership teams.  If you can’t get full support from the management and executives of your facility it may be better to delay the lean implementation because pushing forward without this support will virtually guarantee the failure of this initiative.
  • Poor or No Strategy – Lean implementation is a major undertaking for any facility.  Nobody would consider taking on a large project without a sound strategy, yet many companies attempt a Lean transition without thinking it all the way through.  Take the time to develop a great strategy to help ensure the success of the transformation.
  • Copying Others – A mistake almost as common as having no strategy in place is simply copying the strategy of others.  Every facility is unique and requires a unique strategy to ensure the success of any lean implementation.  Learn from others, yes.  Then create your own implementation plan.
  • Forcing Changes on Employees – Front line employees hate having changes forced on them from above, especially when they don’t understand what the benefit is.  One of the best things about lean strategies is it can make the jobs of each employee more rewarding, productive and sometimes even easier.  When done properly there is no reason to dictate from above this implementation.  Include employees in the planning and implementation phases to ensure the long term success of your lean strategies.
  • Education – Virtually everyone in the facility will be impacted by these changes from the least experienced employee to the CEO.  Providing education on this process is essential.  Some positions will only require brief training sessions and others may need days of training.  Remember to always provide the training people need so you can not only help them become more engaged, but also improve the chances of a successful transition.
  • It’s Not Easy – Thinking this implementation will be easy because of the fact that it is such a logical and well made strategy can cause problems.  A successful implementation of the lean concepts will take time and effort, but it is well worth the rewards you and your facility will enjoy for many years to come.

Additional Resources