Restarting the LEAN transformation process is not the end.

Developing and implementing LEAN may have been harder than you thought. This is especially true for those who have never implemented it before. Wise leaders take a step back, re-evaluate the situation and begin again instead of giving up. If you are restarting, do not lose heart.

Before restarting, retrace your implementation steps, key assumptions and expectations.

The devil literally lies in the details. Did you have clear expectations and goals from the start? Did you pick the right value stream or was it too ambitious? Did you have the right metrics and have a reliable method for collecting and analyzing the data?

Where did the “future state” get off course?

Ramping up requires significant planning. You need the right milestones and everyone’s effort. You need to track your team’s progress as well as to openly and honestly discuss challenges and solutions. Did you have higher aspirations than what was realistically possible??

Did you have a significantly stronger backlash against going LEAN than expected?

Change and uncertainty can be difficult for your employees. The way things have always been done has gotten the company and the team to where they are today. Did you make certain they were included and understood their role as well as what was at stake?

Did you not buy all the equipment you needed?

LEAN implementation can require a significant amount of investment. At times, well meaning leaders may not be able to afford it or an unforeseen circumstance arises where it can not purchased in a timely manner.

Did your team not get the training they needed?

The key to empowering employees to take on new tasks and learn new skills is rock solid training. LEAN requires people to learn new skills and to move to where the action (bottlenecks) are. If you push them too hard without building confidence by training them first and working with them until they are ready to do it on their own, bad things can happen.

Did your team truly buy in or did they revert to the old ways when you weren’t looking?

It is too easy for select team members to refuse to change and undermine your effort. Change is built on trust and excellent two way communication. You should work with them to help remove barriers to success. They need to be trusted to do it on their own. You should expect doubt and push back. Seek solutions and consider them based on merit and not just the person suggesting it. Weave their ideas into your own. For any change to succeed, those doing the work must see benefits and understand why the old ways needed to stop.

Did a leader fail to meet their commitments as they pledged?

Loaning out team members is a hard concept to embrace. Welcoming non-team members into you area is great but how can you trust them? Floating employees when your team has not meet their goals is a hard pill to swallow. Great care must be taken in reminding leaders of their promises and obligations. 

Did you fail to “course correct” as you needed?

Few companies automatically have success from the start. There are obstacles to overcome and the unexpected will arise. There are many paths to success and the most direct one may be unknown at the start or quickly become a bad choice. Wise leaders know how to try new ideas and approaches to keep progress moving. 

LEAN has the power to rapidly change a company.

At times, it is too fast. Be patient and make sure everyone is on board. Like any change in life or in business, not everyone will make the journey.

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