Lean: “Why Isn’t This Working?”

Sometimes, for all your best intentions, Lean just is not catching on at your facility. You have tried workshops, trainings, and even conducted a 5S pilot project but you can’t seem to get people interested. It can be deeply frustrating — at its core, Lean is about making your work life easier and more satisfying — unfortunately, it has been anything but that. What can you do?

Invisible Barriers to Lean

There are plenty of reasons why your Lean efforts have yet to provide the results you expected. It might be that the Lean tools you are using are not the right fit for the needs of your organization, or it might be a lack of good information about how to do the implementation. However, most likely, it is simply a lack of support.

A Lean effort without the support of the employees involved will not be successful. You need everyone to be engaged, contributing ideas and involved in the process. When subordinates, coworkers and managers are hesitant or actively opposed to reform, it is essential to identify, and remove, these invisible barriers to Lean.

Toss the Anchor Draggers Overboard!

No, you cannot push your coworkers out a window if they are opposed to improvement efforts, as tempting as it might be. However, if they are stopping progress, consider reforming a process that does not involve them. You can use those results to help persuade a resistant coworker (or as they are known within the Lean community, “Anchor Draggers”)

Another tactic is to actually put the unconvinced employees in charge of a portion of the reforms. Although counter-intuitive, this might reduce their fear of change since they will control the implementation. Obviously, it will be essential to track goals in this situation so that everyone understands what is expected.

Building a Lean Team

You don’t have to do this alone. We believe that everyone wants to improve their working conditions. The key is helping coworkers understand that Lean allows them to do just that. Network with fellow Lean enthusiasts, share your favorite learning materials (hopefully from üttana) and share success stories among your peers.

Together, we will transform how people work, one person at a time.

April 14, 2015

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