March 1, 2014

Lean System Implementation - Facilitating and Impeding Factors


 Success Rates

Liker (1998) observed only three in seven firms attempting a transition to lean methods experienced any degree of success. According to Rubrich (2004), recent studies have shown, of the firms that claim to be lean, only five percent are truly lean. It shows that many firms have to know more and implement more changes in their systems.
It is important to note that Womack and Jones said, lean system implementation could be two steps forward and one step backward situation. So company must be prepared for temporary failures in many areas, but they have to persist to understand the system, come out with alternative and work toward success.

Training for Lean Systems

Blanchard & Thacker (2004) stated language is an important element of training. Unfamiliar terminology must be defined prior to beginning any intensive training program. Based on a study by Ragan & Smith (2005) the use of an agreed-upon and familiar language is critical and should be addressed at the onset of a training program. This issue has to be addressed as an important part of lean training programs and in the early part of the training program, the terminology is to be defined and explained adequately to participants.

Change Management
Bridges (1991) identified four key elements of change management which he calls the ‘four p’ method. These elements are as follows:
• Plan the change
• Explain the Purpose
• Paint a picture
• Give everyone a Part to play

Planning the change and explaining the purpose are critical in the process of  becoming a lean enterprise. Explaining the purpose of a lean transformation may decrease fear and resistance. Planning the change also includes clarification of terms and concepts. Neither Bridges nor Standard and Davis address the issue of clarifying terms and concepts. However, this critical element of training should not be omitted from the
planning phase of a lean transformation.

The results of the study reported in this post has used  14 interviewee with varied levels of experience and expertise in lean implementation.

Important Results of the Study useful in planning lean training programs and implementations.

Timeline Required for Implementing Lean Methods
Time Required:            Less than 1 year 1 > 3 years 3 > 5 years 5 > 7 years > 7 years Undecided
Number of responses:        1                       1              4                1                2                    5

The modal value is 3 to 5 years. Womack and Jones also talk of 5 years.

Indicators of Success of the Lean Implementation

Response Categories Number of Responses
Increased Profit                 4
Cost of Operations            3
Improved Quality              2
Improved Delivery Times  1
Employee Satisfaction       3
Reduced Cycle Time        1
Inventory Reduction         3
Increased Productivity      3
Sales Growth                   1
Employees Adopt New Philosophy 2
Reduction of waste          1
Improved Space Utilization 1

Add increase in customer satisfaction also.

All indicators fit with theory perfectly. Reduction in waste, increase in productivity and decrease in cost are similar measurements. But they are measured in different ways. Increase in profit also takes into consideration increase in sales and customer satisifaction.

What factors impede the implementation of lean?

The Question or Item  is designed to identify factors that impede the implementation of lean
Impeding Factors
Impeding Factors                       Number of Responses
Lack of Management Support             5
Lack of Understanding                        5
Resistance to Change                         4
Lack of Employee Buy-In                  3
Lack of Reason to Change                3
Lack of Employee Empowerment      3
Poor Communication                         3
Organizational Culture                        3
Lack of Training                                  3
Ineffective Leadership                          2
Traditional Thinking                             2
Bottom Line Thinking                          1
Poorly Planned Implementation            1
Poor Reasoning in Management Deadlines 1
Lack of Effort                                      1

The impediments are lack of understanding in senior management, middle management, first level management and operators. Training is very important for developing understanding.

Based on the understanding a plan has to be drawn.

Organization has to be established.

Leadership and Communication come into play when the plan is to be communicated and implements.

Lack of effort becomes visible during implementation phase and control actions become necessary. Changes always result in minor problems. Management must be ready to identify problems impeding the success and finding solutions.

What factors facilitate the implementation of lean?

Facilitating Factors
Facilitating Factors                                             Number of Responses
Support of Knowledgeable and Effective Leaders    7
Driven by Crisis                                                      4
Dedicated Change Agent                                         4
Employee Ownership and Empowerment                 4
Communication                                                        2
Understanding Theory and Application                     1
5S                                                                           1
Teamwork                                                               1
PDCA                                                                      1
Focus on Quality                                                     1
Visual Controls and Management                            1
Terminating Resistant Personnel                               1
Training in Change Management                              1
Strategic Congruence                                              1
Supplier Involvement                                              1
Customer Involvement                                            1

Important factors are  Support of Knowledgeable and Effective Leaders, Dedicated Change Agent, Communication,  Understanding Theory and Application.                    

Which training topics are most effective in preparing the workforce
for lean methods?

Effective Training Topics

Effective Training Topics            Number of Responses
Change Management                                   1
Kaizen/Continuous Improvement                  3
Problem Solving                                           3
Kanban                                                        2
Lean Principles                                             1
Value Stream Mapping                                 2
5S                                                                4
Visual Controls                                             4
Standardized Work                                       3
Pull Systems/One-Piece Flow                       4
SMED/Quick Changeover                             2
Total Productive Maintenance                       1
Statistical Methods                                        1
Types of Waste                                             2

There are no surprises in the list.

We need to provide training in improvement need, improvement tools and improvement management

Kaizen/Continuous Improvement  - The Need and Benefits

Tools: Problem Solving, Kanban,                    
Lean Principles,                                      
Value Stream Mapping                                
Visual Controls                                            
Standardized Work                                      
Pull Systems/One-Piece Flow                      
SMED/Quick Changeover                            
Total Productive Maintenance                    
Statistical Methods                                      
Types of Waste

Tools: Productivity Problem Solving, Standardized Work, SMED/Quick Changeover,  Lean Principles, Types of Waste

Value Stream Mapping, 5S, Visual Controls,  Pull Systems/One-Piece Flow, Kanban, Total Productive Maintenance,  Statistical Methods

Change Management


A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of  Purdue University
by  Brian S. Leonard
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of  Master of Science
December 2007
Purdue University , West Lafayette, Indiana

All the above research results will be considered and implemented in delivering the training programme
BECOMING LEAN ENTERPRISE: THEORY AND CASE STUDIES - Management Development Programme at NITIE, Mumbai, India



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