Standard Business Roadmap

Implementation Manual




Lean transformations – 10 reasons for failure


Reason                                                                                               Responsibility


1.         Lack of available resource                                                   Management


2.         Lack of commitment to make changes happen -  Management

            managers have to manage


3.         Company measurement methods incompatible               Management

            with lean manufacturing


4.         Lack of knowledge and understanding                               Management


5.         Poor communication                                                            Management


6.         Initial project scope was too large                                       Management


7.         Poor change agents (ability, availability, position)            Management


8.         Payment issues                                                                     Management


9.         Greedy for results                                                                  Management


10.       No top level guidance or performance review                   Management


Clearly, a lean transformation will only be successful if senior management is totally committed to realising the change.  Senior management must also:


·        Demonstrate the compelling need


·        Plan the change appropriately


·        Train and develop people at all levels


·        Lead and support people through the change process


·        Balance expectations of both workforce and management.


 Demonstrate the compelling need


Senior management must both understand and effectively convey the compelling need – the reasons whey the company is embarking upon the “lean journey” – to all levels of the organisation.  These reasons should include the:


·        Requirements of the customer


·        Company’s position relative to the competition


·        Current performance of the company


·        Need to grow and develop as an organisation


Plan the change appropriately


The change agents should plan all activities, assign responsibilities to individuals, and  agree on completion dates.  Senior management must first approve the plan for the change programme and then develop a system that reviews progress.


Train and develop people at all levels


People from all levels of the organisation need to understand lean.  They should be able to practice the process of implementation and maintenance.  This process starts with the senior management team and cascades downwards, hopefully obtaining genuine acceptance and understanding from all levels of the organisation.


Lead and support people through the change process


A people-centred approach is necessary for a successful lean transformation.  Senior management must be seen to lead through being actively involved in change activities.  Employees need time to become accustomed to new ways of doing things, so significant time will be required to explain the reasons for change and its potential benefits.


Balance expectations of both workforce and management


Senior management must carefully balance their expectations for the change process with the expectations of the workforce to ensure sustainable change .  See figure 20.  Conflicts can arise quickly if there is a mismatch between the expectations of one party and the provision of the other.






A lean structure is one where people are organised in a way that promotes maximum effectiveness during the lean transformation.  This typically is realised through cross-functional ownership of the production process.  There are two stages of evolution in creating this ownership:


·        Steering committee guidance


·        Progressive organisational structure


Steering committee guidance


The creation of a steering committee is a minimum requirement for the initial introduction of lean manufacturing in medium to large change programs.  A steering committee is composed of a number of functions and meets regularly to assume ownership for the lean transformation.  If the committee fails to meet on a regular basis, then there is a high likelihood of lost focus or momentum for the lean transformation.  Therefore, the key members of the steering committee should not be permitted to send deputies on a regular basis.

 Progressive organisational structure


A lean transformation can only be successful if it is self-sustaining.  This requires a fundamental change in the organisation.  The organisational structure should be changed from functional orientation to value stream responsibility, as illustrated in figure 21.  A single manager should be accountable for the value stream, and manage all functions for that product.  The value stream structure allows sustainable change to be conducted rapidly and as part of normal business practice.  When managing the transition from a functional structure to a value-stream structure, it is necessary that standard systems and procedures are maintained because full autonomy could result in major disruption for each value stream manager initially.


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