Lean implementation can be a both a blessing and a curse. One cannot deny the value and results of lean programs across multitudes of industries. Anyone with any doubt about the effectiveness need just look to Toyota and the Toyota Production System (TPS) to understand the powerful impact on production and manufacturing. For many, the implementation of lean practices in their organizations has resulted in significant improvement in both quality and financial performance. These organizations enjoy a pronounced competitive advantage in their industry. Numerous other industries outside of manufacturing have enjoyed some of the same success as Toyota with lean practices.
Avoid the Lean Implementation Traps
For every success story, there are five horror stories when organizations start down the stormy path of lean implementation. Success is elusive for those organizations, and those failures start to add up quick. Amongst the ashes and broken dreams of the organizations that struggled and failed with lean practices, there are a few common traits that led to their demise:
Negative Teams – Success starts with getting buy-in across the manufacturing floor. Instead of implementing lean practices to one team at at time, the processes are rolled at ‘en mass.’ This approach never gives workers a chance to develop confidence in the new systems and become fully invested in the new process.
C-Suite Demands – When lean practices were introduced, C-Suite leaders quickly saw the advantages to the process and quickly put unrealistic financial projections based on an overall picture. So, as lean implementation rolls out in their organization, they want to see significant results that are immediate. They don’t understand that there must be clear and reasonable expectations about the time and money required in changing process. There is no such thing as a one size fits all solution in lean.
Financial Struggles – When it comes to changes in production lines that generate the most revenue, C-Suite leaders are often very hesitant to change from the status quo. Lean implementation requires a commitment to investing both time and money, which could affect the lifeblood of the organization. Leaders must understand that they commit to change and be willing to provide the resources to see things through.
True Grit – The implementation of Lean practices requires time to affect change. During that time, people will lose focus, leaders will lose trust and workers will lose faith. That is precisely why leaders must have grit! They must embrace lean practices and have the vision and tenacity to moving the process forward, even in the face of a storm.
Organizations that enjoy the highest levels of success with lean practices and lean implementation are the ones that have grit! They are committed to the processes and work hard to move forward in the face of adversity. The worst mistake an organization can make is to quit.