6 Mistakes Manufacturers Make When Misunderstanding Lean [Pt. 2]

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This post is a follow up to our previous post: 5 Common Lean Implementation Pitfalls. See below the remaining pitfalls.

4. Fascination with the tools – Lean manufacturing has many technical tools that have enamored many manufacturers because they are fun to implement and rewarding. When we feel we can make a difference in someone’s work life, and we have a passion for that, it is hard not to embrace the joy of that experience. The problem is that this dynamic affects the implementation of Lean manufacturing in a negative way. The initiative is not taken seriously, and leaders fail to adopt the behaviors that need to go along with the technical tools. Instead, strive to bring the adoption of the principles, this will lead to the implementation of the tools.

5. Neglecting the people and cultural side – This one goes hand in hand with pitfall no. 4; anecdotes abound regarding the failed attempts at making operational improvements without considering the human aspect. For changes to be effective, we need to have the right leaders in the right places. These leaders need to understand the value of Lean, experience it for themselves, and change their behaviors (leadership and management) to reflect their embracing the Lean manufacturing principles. They must also be able to engage their teams so that everyone contributes to the initiative. Unfortunately, I commonly see manufacturers that are gun shy about showing their commitment, or making personnel changes when leaders can’t adapt, effectively stifling the success of the initiative.

6. Failing to engage the team – Many manufacturers feel they can have a successful implementation without creating buy-in from their people. That is a recipe for disaster. There is no one in your organization with more firsthand knowledge of the issues in the business than the people that do the work. Ensure your people are fully on-board and strive to enable them to take the initiative and make it their own.


Girl in a jacket

Remember, Lean manufacturing is not a program that is going to become a silver bullet to all your problems. Lean is a management philosophy, a way of running the business, that if adopted properly, can yield sweeping improvements to your business and not just your operation. If you are deeply committed, be cognizant that having the right leaders is one of the most important aspects of success. Understand that Lean manufacturing is not something that you reach. Success will occur when, long after adopting these principles, the leaders are driving strategic improvements to the business, and the rest of the team is making small and tactical improvements to support the strategy. Finally, avoid seeing it as a beginning and end endeavor, but rather a new way of doing business.

If you are serious about implementing Lean manufacturing and want to get the results that evade most manufacturers, schedule a time to discuss your situation and how we can help.

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