10 Keys to Success and Sustainability

So far we've been focusing on the change from the old ways to new, Lean ways – understanding the concepts, understanding the potential for improvement and making the changes. This is all well and good, but if it all unravels over time, it's all for naught. Making a change is one thing, sustaining a change is quite something else, and this is where many a promising Lean programme has foundered on the rocks. While it would seem absurd to put in all that effort, just to let it all fall apart, it happens more often than not. But why does this happen? There are a number of reasons which we will explore in this chapter, along with some tips for avoiding them.

Top reasons for failure

Reason number one has to be treating the change to Lean as a project. This has a number of consequences which can put the long-term success in jeopardy.

Firstly, projects tend to be considered completed when the visible work is completed, like new processes or a new organisation. The biggest part of Lean is not the visible stuff, it's the invisible stuff. It's difficult to plan and schedule this in a project plan. It usually ends up as a couple of long bars at the bottom of a 2000-line process change plan with the titles “Change Management” and “Training”. While everyone will make the right noises about the need for these, very few people really understand what these entail or the consistent effort it takes to do it.

Secondly, projects are usually done by project ...

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