I pointed out in my previous paper that going lean is not just as simple as following the steps in a cookbook. One has to consider different factors for the program to be successful.

The article pointed out business strategies, leadership’s commitment, culture and having the right people in the right position as critical factors in which the 74% of the companies who are not successful in going lean failed to look into.

Reducing the cost of production is indeed good for a company; it adds to profit. But reducing production costs may not be aligned to the goals or market positioning of the company. Maybe it’s positioning is not centered on offering the cheapest product but instead it’s focused on improving the quality of its product in terms of innovation and usefulness to customer. In which case, focusing on reducing production costs might mislead the management away from their real goal. In this case, the management has to define what quality is to get a clearer view of what they really need to do and focus on. Maybe focusing their efforts in going lean should not be a priority.

It’s also important for the leaders in a company to be committed to the program. Half-heartedness will only push one to nowhere. This happens because managers are afraid of changes and changing and feel safe to stick to the status quo. But I believe status quo exists to be challenged. There’s always room for improvement and it’s foolish to just watch that opportunity leave you. This reminds me of the story “Who Moved my Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson where the character lost his cheese after being complacent and believing that he’ll never lose it, so in the end he lost it. The world is rapidly changing. If we miss out to go with the flow, it might be the end for us. This is why being not afraid to change to cope with this constantly shifting business environment is important. This does not only apply to managers but also to the whole firm as well. With this comes the importance of changing the whole culture within a firm to further the success of the lean program. It’s useless if you target getting lean when your employees don’t even care about improving the quality of their production. As a manager, one needs to create a chain effect that will affect the whole. And one can achieve this through changing the culture, if necessary, in favor of that goal.

Strategic goals, leadership’s commitment and culture, these are but few factors one has to consider. But the main point is we should always strive to improve. The world is changing and it’s inevitable. If we remain complacent and chose to stay in the temporary comforts of status quo, we might just lose our cheese.

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