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3 min read

Lean Management: the 10 main challenges during implementation

Lean Management: the 10 main challenges during implementation
Lean Management: the 10 main challenges during implementation
5:05

The 10 Main challenges

The introduction of lean management can encounter a variety of challenges, both cultural and operational.
We explain some of the main roadblocks in this blog post.

 

1. Cultural resistance

  • Massive changes, such as the introduction of a lean management system or a value creation system, have the character of transformations. Transformations take effect at various levels:

      • Level of methods and tools

      • Level of attitude, behavior and world view

      • Level of the social system and culture

  • Changes of this magnitude cause uncertainty among employees due to the loss of familiarity as well as fears and resistance

 

2. Lack of understanding and training

A basic understanding of the overall framework of lean management with its lean principles, methods, tools and cultural framework is crucial for a successful and sustainable introduction. It is therefore important to develop and train people alongside the process and value creation system development.
On the one hand, employees must understand the reasons for changes in the company and be able to understand lean methods and their effect in application.



          Figure 1: Sustainable culture of change; Source: Staufen.ValueStreamer GmbH

 

3. Lack of management involvement

Without the active involvement of management, the introduction of lean management can fail. The management level must support the changes, provide resources and act as a role model itself.
A lean transformation that is “delegated” to employees without the involvement of top management is doomed to failure.



4. Difficulties in implementing
lean principles

  • It can be challenging to effectively integrate lean principles such as just-in-time, pull systems and continuous improvement into existing work systems.

  • The transition from the classic delegation cascade (see Figure 2 left hand side) to the support cascade (see Figure 2 right hand side) is particularly difficult in connection with consistent value stream and customer orientation. In this context, one also speaks of the tilted pyramid, i.e. the focus is on the value stream and not on the manager.

 

 Figure 2: From delegation cascade to the support cascade; Soruce: Staufen.ValueStreamer GmbH

5. Resistance to changes in the
working environment

Physical changes in the working environment, such as restructuring workplaces according to the 5S principles, can meet with resistance, especially if employees are familiar with a specific, existing work environment for a long time.


6. Measurability and tracking

It can be difficult to clearly measure and track the success of lean initiatives. A lack of clear performance metrics can hinder the evaluation of effectiveness.

7. Excessive focus on cost reduction 

Some organizations use lean management initiatives solely as a vehicle for cost savings, neglecting the mindset behind lean management, which also aims to sustainably increase quality, customer satisfaction and flexibility



8. Limited Resources

The successful introduction of lean management requires time and resources. Ideally, companies should set up an OPEX team as part of a lean transformation that acts as an in-house consultant after appropriate training, education and coaching for change management. A lack of resources can severely hamper implementation.

9. Unclear communication

  • Communication is the be-all and end-all of a successful transformation; there are very different formats that can be used as part of a change process in order to reach individuals, groups, employees and entire work systems with the right communication tools and integrate them into the process, depending on the situation.

  • Clear accompanying communication about the goals and benefits of lean management is crucial.

  • In general, a lack of and poor communication causes uncertainty and misunderstandings.

10. Lack of continuity

  • Lean management requires continuous improvement efforts. Lean Management implementations are not projects with a beginning and an end. A lean management system implementation is ultimately nothing more than the start of a continuous journey towards OPEX.

  • A common problem is that after the initial successes, e.g. through the introduction of individual methods, the focus on lean management as a working framework wanes and continuous improvement is neglected.

11. Conclusion

Successfully overcoming these challenges requires strategic planning, professional change management, clear communication, commitment at all levels of the organization and the ability to respond flexibly to change.

It is important to recognize that the introduction of lean management is an ongoing process and not a one-off initiative. Understanding that lean management is a mindset or attitude promotes the continuous improvement process. 

 

 

 

Learn more about Lean Management

 

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