Are Executives Getting Fake News Regarding Lean Implementation


If you been a Lean Practitioner for more than a decade I’m sure you can relate to the post today.


When listening to top executives give presentation regarding continuous improvement I’m always encouraged. They didn’t get where they’re at without great communication skills and charisma. After all these are true believers appears only the successfully of continuous improvement program reports get to their desks.

The Presentation

You know we’re thriving to be a world class customer focused organization that is agile and sensitive to the needs of all shareholders and employees. We shall remove waste and redundancy and put in place lean operating systems that drive proper linkage and flow throughout the organizing.

The Reaction

Typically everyone is energized and ready to kick waste in the butt. The buzz is starting everyone knows of some type waste and redundancy in their own jobs. Practically everyone begins to collect lists of turn backs and system failures.

The Implementation

Now it’s time to learn the lean tools. This is where things begin to get rocky. Most have expectations to begin problem solving at least the low hanging fruit. However there is a process for problem solving and you have not learned it yet. Someone might say “if the mortgage department personnel simply created a completion checklist like our Detroit division we could reduce errors tremendously.” The normal answer would be once you’ve been trained you’ll understand how to quantify, Pareto and present your issue for later review.  No brainer issues are sometimes lost in the discussion making harder to present the problem than to just solve it.


Now it’s time to learn the tools. During training you learn all the great slogans terms and theory of lean. On paper it all makes sense looks attainable and once again you get another tingling of hope that this just might work.

The Work Shops

Now it’s time to put that training to use and pick a issue to tackle.  Of course most issues have been selected in advance by management not organically derived because group may decide on a real problem that isn’t solvable but highlighting that would be of great importance to everyone. Sometimes understanding your limitations is the only ways overcome them. As a result problem that is clearly solvable at least on paper is chosen I understand both pros and cons of this.

The Report Out

After a week or two of problem solving and using all the tools of quality it’s time to report out to management. I have never seen one not a single one fail to present a success that is to be the template of all other problems regardless of the complexity.

The Results

The results always seemed mixed. While everyone understands and appreciates the tools and methodology, the workshop subject was just a microcosm of a much more complex system. Much low hanging fruit is lost due to the complexity of the tools and the truly complex problems are never really addressed. Basically it seems learning the tools were really the product not truly solving the problems they were meant to solve. When this happens the next problem solving tool is developed and rolled out  before the last tool was fully implemented. Creating what we all know is the flavor of the month quality system.

The Question

If after continuous training and so called successful culture change events that were all successful why aren’t all organizations meeting their targets. So I ask again “Does Accurate Lean Reporting Get to Top of Organizations?”

Tell us of your story in implementing lean principles there are plenty waiting to be heard.

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