Prepare people for process changes to encourage quick, successful adoption of lean principles.
Find a company where plans for a lean implementation have just been announced and you'll see resistance to change. People have seen changes fail before. They've bought in, only to see managers' enthusiasm disappear. To increase your implementation efforts' chance of success, watch out for these six common pitfalls.
Leaving it to the consultants.
While consultants can be invaluable for analysis and training, they don't have skin in the game. They may try to stay longer than necessary, or leave without preparing you and your people to carry on without them.
Middle managers are indispensible in facilitating the tasks that go into a lean transformation, but they often get blame from above and suspicion from below. Coach, mentor and visibly support them.
Expecting a lean champion to make the changes.
Hiring a lean expert from outside or training a few in your company can provide useful guidance for your business, but remember that the expert's role is to support leaders, managers and employees who are actually making the changes. They should show, not do.
Being caught up in the tools.
People new to lean often see the tools first, but miss the deep thinking that knits them all together--so they pick the wrong tool or improvement target. This is where the right consultant or training can help you. As you learn, focus on your customer and the barriers that keep employees from meeting and exceeding their expectations and profitability.
Focusing on reducing the workforce.
The best results come when leaders honestly assure employees that no one will lose his or her job as a result of improvements. Remind workers that misconduct is still a reason for termination, and that dire business conditions may give you no other choice. Then redeploy workers freed up by improvements by retraining them or even developing them into lean improvement leaders. Ultimately, the goal is rarely to reduce the workforce, but to produce more with the employees you have, to get new business and to add profits.
Letting the effort wane.
Leaders in companies recognized for business transformation know that the journey is never-ending. As employees see that your commitment doesn't waver, they will join you in transforming your company.
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