TOP 10 Reasons why Lean Implementation fails

Lean failures
Lean failures

Lean Implementation is all about experience and lessons learned. Many companies struggle with a lean implementation, as they do not have strong experience yet. To help you to avoid this failures, we have summarized the top 10 reasons.

Top 10 Reasons why Lean Implementation Fails

#1 Missing Management commitment

Lean Implementation does not work bottom-up. You will face resistance and fear in your organization without the support from top management.

Operate top-down to get the necessary support and backing for all lean activities from your upper management. This will help you especially in making cross-departmental decisions.


#2 No Lean Foundation established

When trying to work on lean topics without having a strong lean foundation, you might be successful in short-term, but your processes will collapse in long-term.

Start to establish a lean foundation with tools like 5S, standardization and visualization. Discipline is mandatory for lean production. Create a lean vision based on the value stream design and start further lean approaches once you stabilized your foundation.

Click here: Boost your Lean Career

#3 Too many Steps at once

Many lean implementation approaches fail, as the organization initiates too many construction sites in parallel.

Try to focus on one defined pilot assembly line and implement lean principles at that particular pilot. Once the organization works and the pilot line runs smoothly, adapt these lessons learned to further Areas.


#4 Important Steps of Lean Implementation are skipped

At #2, we learned that we have to stabilize a foundation first. From there on, we have to follow a roadmap to be successful with lean implementation. When missing one of these steps, we face the risk of falling back to old conditions.

In the previous email, I sent you the 12 success factors of lean implementation. These 12 steps are a rough guideline for you, which you can use in order to reduce the risk of missing some of the fundamental steps of lean implementation.

#5 The Persons running the Process are not convinced

If the process owner is not convinced, he will not follow that lean approach. Forcing process owners to follow a routine will just work in short-term, as long as you are supporting and pushing him or her. Once you turn your attention away due to upcoming topics, the process owner will switch back to old conditions.

When working on a lean process, involve the process owner in all discussions. If you are convinced of an idea, moderate the meetings in that way, in which the process owner will come up with that exact idea. If you can guide the process owner to come up with that idea, the solution will be in place in long-term.


#6 Missing Lean Production Knowledge

Many organizations face the disadvantage of missing lean experience and knowledge inside their organization. As lean consultancies are expensive, they start applying the trial-and-error method. That is very powerful to get strong lean skills in long-term, but will be risky when trying to convince others with lean at the very beginning.

To be honest: Strengthening lean knowledge of an organization is a balancing act. On the one hand, I always recommend the trial-and-error principle as you get very deep and tailored lean knowledge for your products and processes. On the other hand, weak lean knowledge will risk losing the trust of your colleagues in what you plan to do in terms of lean production. Tons of good lean implementation examples are available on the internet or you can start to share lean experiences across your company and factories.


#7 Missing Lean Benchmark

It becomes hard to convince people without the proof of its physical Advantages.

At the very beginning, you must focus your attention on just one particular production line or product. Choose a production line, which is most representative for other working areas. Once you proofed the advantage of lean production at that pilot line, promote that line as your lean production line. From then on, most processes can be copied and pasted to other assembly lines.


#8 Not all Parties involved

You will fail when acting in a one-man show. Many companies struggle to involve all required departments into the lean implementation process.

At the very beginning, a strong communication is mandatory for the success of lean implementation. This also relates to #1: The top-down approach. Make sure all parties are involved and committed to follow the lean Approach.


#9 Low Motivation for Changes

People not willing to follow the lean approach must be motivated. As you need patient and endurance while implementing lean processes, a motivated team is mandatory.

To motivate team members, coaching and training courses can be applied. Further on, use the benchmark pilot line to illustrate the benefits of lean production. Lean approaches can also become part of the full year target if top management supports that activity.


#10 Fear

People are anxious. Especially when it comes to changes. As lean production is about changes and improvements, fear is a strong factor, which can lead to the failure of lean implementation.

You can still their fear by comprehension. You achieve comprehension especially by proven examples, training, background information and open discussions. You further can use lean factory models to simulate the benefits of lean modifications before applying them on the shop Floor.

Lean Implementation – Further Reading:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here