The truth is, most lean implementations are a failure over long duration. The reasons could be many. However, some of them are the major causes, as identified by the people involved in the implementation. They may be the right or maybe these are just the symptoms. We have to find the root cause in our own organisation.
I did a survey last week and here are some of the top reasons for lean failures as per the readers of this blog. Thanks to all who contributed their valuable time to answer the survey. It was very insightful. You too can spare just a minute to answer the survey here.
- Does not walk the talk
- Does not buy in
- Does not support the process
- They are not committed
- Lacks the leadership qualities
- Fears loss of power or resources
- Mindset change for the people
- What’s in it for me
- Resistance to change
- Lack of understanding
- Responsibility without Authority
- Change agents not talking in their language
- Is related to the culture and top management
- People Lack Skills for implementation
- Project thinking and not embracing it as a lifestyle
- Random application of tools
- Did not consider continuous learning as part of the process
Are they really the cause of failure?
Be careful do not jump to conclusions here. Failure and success are pit stops on the journey of continuous improvement. So do not dwell on this too much. It is good to know the reason so that you can figure out ways to counteract it. Learn from failure and find a way to succeed.
When you think something was the cause of failure, dig deeper. Find the root cause. It may be something else. If you jump on the first thing that comes to your mind then there are chances that you may be on the wrong boat.
For Top Management, ask if you are just blaming them for your failure. If they are responsible then what was the cause. Were they educated on the benefits? Did you get a buy in? What qualities do they lack? How can you sell the idea to them?
For culture, is the whole group prepared for the big change? What does your culture lack? Do leaders respect and engage people at all level? Do people with responsibility given the authority to change? Do you see improvement activities as value or as cost?
For Sustainability, Is this just a temporary phase? Can you learn from this experience and make the changes stick the next time?
So What is the Truth?
Are you part of failed Lean implementation? Hey, do not worry. You are not alone. Almost all of us have been there. It is a part of the process.
There few failures before you succeed. Moreover, if you do not take effort to sustain there can be a failure after the big success. The success and failure come and go. We see companies as successful ones, when they have far more successes than failures. Even the big companies like Toyota have failed, but they did not stop there. The truth is only persistence matters. So take actions, fail fast to succeed fast.
Other truth is the way we think. We (mostly the western world) have the mindset of result-focused approach. Nothing wrong in having goals, but the problem lies in the means to achieve the goals (More about this here). Under traditional management, people who focus on the means are not always recognized. Like one of the person in survey said, “They promote the heroes- fire fighters …” These people achieve some incredible results, which are only short term and neither try to solve or prevent the issues from happening in the future
What is your Story?
People always want to hear about successes. However, there is lot to learn from failures too. I would love to hear your story about a failure. Were any of these reasons responsible? What did you do about it?