“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
As successful as lean has been over the past several years, a couple of reports about lean failure have also been acknowledged. But how does failure feel? Many people take it as a challenge, and many refuse to accept it. The general perception is that failure is something we learn from, and use it to gather knowledge to make improvements in the future. There is not a single methodology out there that hasn’t failed at one point. Similarly, lean transformation processes at times fail. When a lean failure occurs, it wreaks havoc within the system, and it becomes the utmost priority for professionals to determine what caused the failure.
Why Does Lean Fail?
So what factors are involved in the failure of lean practices? Here are a few reasons behind lean failure:
Lack of Management Support
Lean is meant to collapse if there is a lack of support from leadership. There is a “blame game culture” and lack of executive participation in many organizations. This attitude is a barrier to the development of lean management systems and the ability to create a lean culture.
Unaware of the purpose
The intent of lean is to discern problems and drive continuous improvement. The idea of implementing lean works better when you have already performed the steps of the problem (waste) and value identification (customer). The chances of improvement are low if management fails to understand this basic purpose.
Following the herd
As the saying goes, “Little knowledge is always dangerous.” Many organizations fall prey to it. They decide to go lean because they think of it as a management fad. In this case, it is highly likely that lean will fail because, with time, the employees will lose interest, causing catastrophic results.
No Lean mindset
Having a lean mindset is a combination of knowledge, training, and support. Before any facility decides to deploy lean techniques, leadership needs to model the lean mindset for others to follow. By doing so, this decreases the rate of failure, since implementing lean demands strong attention from management.
Without a solid knowledge of lean processes, the methodology will fall apart during the implementation process. The ability to set goals before lean implementation will prove to be a growth driver and will ensure success.
Many industries such as manufacturing and healthcare have achieved immense success with the help of lean practices. A business leader must keep the balance to sustain lean practices and succeed, enabling continuous quality improvement. The fear of failure can only be removed by trying and giving your best.