Why Do Lean Implementations Fail? Chapter 1

iLean News   •   January, 2020

All around the world, businesses are facing a challenge to keep up with the changes happening in their markets. Some of them are more proactive and planning better for those changes and some of them are more reactive to them. In both cases Lean Operations implementation has been the answer for many companies to survive. When Lean Operations are implemented in the right way for the right reasons it can save a business. When applied in a proactive planned manner, it places the business ahead of the competition. When applied in a reactive manner it can save the business from going under.
All of the implementations start with good intentions and planning but why many of them fail. We will cover different reasons for failure in a series of articles.

What are the reasons for Lean Operations failure?

There are many areas that specialists, consultants, continuous improvement professionals, business owners keep talking about. In no particular order;

  • Bad Implementation

  • Resisting Change
  • Ownership

  • Slow Implementation…. etc….

Most important reason -that is the least mentioned by professionals- is;

The Purpose of the Implementation

How many professionals did you hear talking about the purpose when it comes to implementation. How many of them actually talking about the philosophy of Lean rather than tools and techniques.

The most misunderstood part is the reason for going Lean. The purpose of the implementation.

We have visited and worked in so many businesses and the senior management or owners are always talking about the head count. Over the years, Lean Operations brought results for reducing headcount and reducing the cost of per piece or cost of a service offering. Real Lean is not about cost cutting, although it is a result you would have from its implementation, it should definitely not be the purpose for an implementation. Can you imagine trying to change people’s minds and hearts for a new way of working which may result in them losing their job? How can that be sustainable? When you reduce the cost of your product or service, does the competition walk away? We are going to talk about these in more detail in the coming articles. Let’s Focus on the purpose.

The purpose of the lean implementation is capacity creation while increasing the customer satisfaction. The simple test for that is to ask the following question;
“Did we make more sales and gained more customers as a result of our lean implementation?” If the answer is “No” you didn’t implement lean for the right purpose. We are often asked the question by good companies that why they are not seeing the results of their implementations. If you look at the businesses with the successful implementations of lean operations, you will see that they had profitable growth and more satisfied customers year on year.

We are often face the challenge in the market conditions and use the excuse for shrinking market and if the business is shrinking less than the market we see that as an achievement.

If your current market is becoming mature and if your main markets are shrinking then all you can do is focusing more on Export. That is the area that has never been explored good enough by many of the businesses in the UK. Most businesses moan about the cheap imports coming from Europe or Far East but they don’t aim to get Lean and start exporting or exporting more to different markets.

We identified these 10 years ago and always advised our customers to look at ways for growth after becoming a Lean Enterprise. For that reason we have been working with International Trade Matters Limited and we have been their Global Lean Sigma Specialists for one reason and one reason only. GROWTH for our customers.

Lean can only save you for a year or two if your only purpose is saving costs. If your purpose is not capacity creation and not filling that capacity with more sales as a result of better customer satisfaction, then you are setting your Lean Operations implementation to fail from the start.

If and when you become Lean you have all the results for being able to sell more. Lean is Great, Export is Great and Britain is Great.

If you want to know more about how to become lean and how to export more, please contact us. You can also visit International Trade Matters Limited for more information on getting ready for export.