I interviewed Chuck Intrieri who discussed Why Lean Fails in Manufacturing, Distribution or Service Industries.
Lean is not a project. Lean is not a set of tools.
Lean is a philosophy. It is a new way of doing business. Lean is the elimination of all waste and bringing value to the customer. Lean is a paradigm shift. It takes a lot of education and training for everyone, including top management. If people see top management in training classes, they will take it seriously. Training is not over after initial training. Training is continuous as the Lean implementation continues.
Lean will fail if top management does not get behind it. Top Management must be a leading force behind Lean. They should be part of Lean teams. They must show that they are committed to Lean. With implementing Lean, top down is the only way Lean will work. Bottom up will fail.
Lean has to be in the hearts and minds of everyone in the company.
Genuine teamwork, not lip service, has to take place. Cross-functional teams have to work together in harmony and collaboration to eliminate all waste and bring value to the customer. Quality has to improve to 3.4 defects per million chances. This is Six Sigma. If you add Lean to Six Sigma (Lean Six Sigma or LSS) you obtain quality at a faster throughput to the customer. This quality mission takes everyone in the company.
These genuine teams need to use daily Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) to solve all problems that face the company in its goal to eliminate all waste and bring excellent service beyond the customer’s expectations.
If the company is not disciplined Lean will fail. One aspect of Lean is: DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The key is Control. This takes discipline. Employees cannot fall back to the old ways of doing business. Lean takes sustaining any new implementation. Top Management must reinforce new, individual implementations to avoid “falling back.” Small wins in implementing Lean means a lot to the people.
Other members of the company’s Supply Chain has to be included. The Suppliers and Customers also have to practice “Extended Lean.” The Suppliers and Customers, in collaboration with the company, have to be part of the planning process called Sales and Operations Planning (S and OP) or Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning (SIOP).
The company has to get closer to the Customer’s actual needs to avoid inventory buildup. Inventory is money, and has to be perfectly accurate and minimal to meet needs not wants. Suppliers have to reduce their lead times in collaboration with the company and the Customers. If Third Patty Logistics (3PL) providers are involved, they must become part of the extended Lean team.
If the company culture is in place, top management is actively leading the way, training is extensive and continuous,genuine team work is in place, and Lean is in the hearts and minds of everyone in the company, you can look next at the Lean tools. The Lean tools are: 5S, Kaizen/Continuous Improvement, Kanban and Lean Six Sigma. This implementation of tools is a challenge as well.
To implement Lean, and not fail, all of these things need to be in place.
Easy? No way.
Lean is a challenge even with the right culture and discipline from everyone in, and outside (Extended Lean) the company.
Despite the enormous popularity of Lean, the track record for successful implementation of the methodology is spotty at best. Some recent studies say that failure rates for Lean programs range between 50 percent and 95 percent.
The basic reason why the implementation of Lean fails at most companies boils down to the culture.
About Chuck Intrieri
Charles (Chuck) Intrieri
Charles M. Intrieri Consulting
Supply Chain, Warehouse and Logistics Consultant specializing in 3PL, LEAN initiatives and collaboration