Monday, January 24, 2011

Lean Implementation - Common Failure Modes

By Al Norval

When companies look at the success rate of organizations adopting Lean, they are always surprised at how low it is. Naturally, they always ask about common failure modes and how can we avoid these and learn from the lessons of the past.

As I’ve reflected on this, two common themes appear:

- Not recognizing Lean as a cultural change within the organization

- Senior Leaders not changing themselves and delegating Lean to middle managers

These two go hand in hand. Lean culture is about discovering problems, solving problems and sharing the learning across the organization. Easy to say but hard to do in most company where – “shoot the messenger” and “not invented here” rule.

When we understand Lean as a culture change, we understand the need for Senior Leadership to lead the way by modelling the new behaviours and making it OK for the rest of the organization to change. The culture change then cascades outwards from examples set by the Leadership team.

The Lean culture change required is based on Lean mental models (see Lean Learning Solutions Mental Model Cards); Leader as a Teacher is the first one. One of the key roles of Leaders is to develop the capability of the organization. Not through lecture style teaching but through Socratic style questioning. Leaders who make it OK to raise problems but then coach their teams on how to solve the problem themselves exemplify the role of a Lean Leader – one that can’t be delegated.

1 comment:

  1. Al,

    Good post! You hit the nail on the head. You can't delegate Lean. Everyone has a role in the transformation.