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At least 30 ways to miss your Lean transformation

Wednesday 21 January 2009 by emmanuel
  Table of contents  

Many thanks to Guy Dixon, Lean expert in aeronautics, for his help and insights.

It’s easy to miss your lean transformation. Here are at least 30 ways to fail.

- 1 : The first one is ignorance. Ignorance of what is truly Lean, or rather what are the fundamental Lean practices (one piece flow, standardized work,..), and what is a Lean state.

- 2 : Believing that Lean is common sense. If it was true, then every organization would be Lean, because everyone as at least some common sense!

- 3 : Following without questioning twinkling consultants that dazzle you*. "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" goes the adage. Blind and blinded, two chances to fail. (* Specifically those that try to tell you the moon is made of green cheese putting Lean before six sigma, showing their ignorance and ineptitude. 99% of those who have Lean in their name are not.)

- 4 : Skip learning. The manager’s foremost task within Toyota, is to be able to develop and teach people and to lead by example.

- 5 : Practice"the tool for the tool itself". You’ve heard that you should practice 5S, SMED, and TPM. Are you going to practice 5S, SMED, and TPM in every nook and cranny of the organization ? With what ressources ?

- 6 : Eagerness. Wanting to see asap results. Wanting to harvest the "low hanging fruits". Not investing in long term results.

- 7 : To loose one’s purpose. Confused by first kaizen workshops and first Lean transformations, not knowing what to do next. Kaizen, Kaikaku, and muda hunting are unlimited in shopfloor wilderness. For which purpose?

- 8 : A management that does not Lead, nor shows true north. It’s not sensible to rely only upon a Lean team, letting them doing what they think best is. Clear business need should be a key driver.

- 9 : Let equipment wear. Never practice preventive maintenance, nor equipment upgrading, but just do curative or reactive maintenance.

- 10 : Don’t aim TOTAL Quality by Right First Time. Don’t aim under 10 dpmo for your customer. Believe that below 2% of scrap, over-quality is more expensive than control and discard of scraps.

[1Some people call that "economic quantities"!

[2In Workplace Management, Productivity Press, Chapter 30. To explain that getting rid of useless things and putting in order, this is not "Sorting in stores", but throwing away even your unnecessary production, and ensuring that you do not need to move anything when you try to catch what you want. He also explained that Clean and remove microbes, the 2 following S have nothing to do with painting machinery, floor, and color lines on the floor, but rather create a discipline and a rigour, taught by the closest responsible.

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