It’s becoming more and more common knowledge nowadays that lean can be incredibly helpful to an organization. Lean isn’t just helpful in production plants where it originated, but many other types of facilities. In general, as long as you can think of what you’re doing as a product in some abstract way, you can probably implement lean in your workflow as well. However, there are some common pitfalls that have to be avoided if you want to ensure that your implementation of lean will be as trouble-free as possible.
1. Lack of understanding of the purpose of each tool
Lean offers you a huge array of tools to work with, and it’s important to understand each of them as best as you can before jumping in their more advanced uses and combinations. A common mistake made by some leaders is to apply lean without putting enough thought into the specific purpose of each tool involved in the process, something which can quickly lead to a state of chaos and confusion in the organization. This problem can be particularly challenging to resolve later on if you don’t address it from the very beginning, so pay attention to what parts of lean you use exactly.
2. Insufficient physical planning/organization
A big part of lean concerns the way you’re organizing the physical space of your production facilities and other parts of the company. Failing to pay attention to that is one of the quickest ways to find yourself in a lot of trouble when working with lean. Make sure that you think carefully about the way you organize the physical space in your company or you’re going to face some serious challenges in its optimization later on.
3. Not staying up to date with current trends in lean
Lean is a constantly evolving area and one that sees a lot of active attention from multiple participants. New trends come and go on a regular basis, and one of the important points for you as a leader applying lean in their organization is to always stay up to date with those trends. There are many ways to go about that, such as participating in discussion communities, attending seminars and more, but the important point is that you stay active and always keep yourself informed about the current state of affairs on the lean scene.
4. Limiting lean to only certain parts of the organization
There is a lot to gain from properly applying lean to different parts of your organization, so don’t make the mistake of using it in one specific area and leaving it at that. One of the best ways to ensure that your workflow is optimized and sensible is to ensure that you apply lean as much as possible to the different parts of your organization. This can extend all the way to areas such as accounting and data collection, and in fact, some companies have seen some amazing results in the past from such experiments. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking about lean in a limited capacity.
5. Treating lean as a one size fits all solution
Lean is something that needs to be adapted carefully to each individual situation for the best possible results. You can’t treat it as something that you “fire and forget,” and you’ll actually need to think quite a lot about the way you’re applying it to your own production facilities. This may sometimes require you to make modifications to the plans you’re working with, which in turn means that you will need specialized, intricate experience with lean in order to ensure that you know what you’re doing. The point is, don’t forget that lean is a flexible methodology, and the correct way to use it is to adapt it to each individual situation where you see it as an appropriate solution.