Reasons Why Lean Manufacturing Fails

In the lean manufacturing community, there is certainly talk of a few high profiles failures recently. There exists a lot of discussion with the lean community regarding how this could happen.

Most of the real lean producing experts are familiar with few reasons for failure. However could be more than right here, the reasons are often very simple.

  1. The professional isn’t really a professional
  2. Lean producing or Six Sigma tools are used to solve every problem –
  3. Typically the company would not devote enough resources
  4. The timeline expectation is too short
  5. Using the name lean but not the principles
  6. The business is beyond repair

The first four are only temporary problems which you can overcome.

A company can rid itself of the so-called expert and hire one. They can learn to apply other tools in addition to lean manufacturing tools. They can…

  • Find
  • Develop
  • Devote

…the proper resources eventually. The timeline expectation can also change with the right mind established.

If the business is beyond repair

In the event the business is beyond repair, it is probably not in need of a lean manufacturing execution. It could need…

  • Re-organization
  • Financial re-capitalization
  • A complete transformation

No matter the business needs, it should happen before any continuous improvement initiative begins.

A complete Transformation

When a company requires a transformation, or specifically headcount reduction, this should be done prior to any continuous improvement effort. Those in the lean community know this, but often are pushed to downsize the organization. That is critical for lean’s success to educate the executives to the problems with headcount reduction. Despite the fact that it may seem like common sense, some simply do not get it. People will not discover a way to eliminate their job.

However, some might not exactly agree. Lean producing principles, applied properly in the organization, will do wonders. Six sigma projects also provide excellent benefits where applicable. But like all improvement methodologies, they are best applied to well run organizations looking for lasting improvements.

Lack of tools for proper lean implementation

One the largest reasons for lean or six sigma failure is forcing the use of tools to solve problems. We finally have the term lean six sigma, which includes both. Now we need a new term to include the other useful tools. Many lean practitioners do not understand six sigma, and therefore do not know which tools they are missing. Conversely, many six sigma experts are not experienced in the application of lean producing principles.

Using the resources properly

Any initiative requires some minimum amount of resources. If the proper amount of resources are unable to be devoted to the initiative, it is best to wait until the necessary resources are available. Without necessary people and time, any lean, six sigma, or other motivation will fail. Those doing the implementation will become frustrated, and employee morale will suffer. The initiative will become categorized as another fad of the calendar month which wasn’t sustained.

Give time to your business to develop

It is also important to devote the time necessary to achieve and sustain improvement. Although some tools such as kaizen occasions lend themselves well to rapid deployment, the whole lean or six sigma effort cannot outrun the business.

Both lean and six sigma initiatives are business changing initiatives, often producing in major organizational changes. Businesses are run by people, and most can easily handle so much change per time frame. Despite the fact that this varies and may be altered being an corporation learns to change more rapidly, forcing it will only cause chaos.


When consultants can be used, it is best to spread out their time and energy to allow the organization to absorb the change. Lean manufacturing consultants can certainly provide more change and improvements on a company quicker than the company can digest it. Unless the organization can afford to get the consultant for a extended period of your time, spacing trips is better than a rapid sequence of deployment.