You might recall the annual Lean Enterprise Institute survey that included a question about obstacles to Lean implementation. You might also recall our discussion about the “blaming” that seemed to go on in the survey responses (blame that included everybody but top management). This led to me doing a “5 Why’s” format survey of my own, a survey that also included “lack of top management support” as a survey option.
I received 100 responses, which isn’t quite the sample size of over 2000 that the LEI got for their survey, but it is still interesting to compare the results. I’ll share my results over a series of blog posts. In this first post, we look at the question (as posed in both surveys), “What are the biggest obstacles to implementing Lean in your organization?” I first posed the question the same way as the LEI, allowing “check all that apply” multiple responses (but again, adding “lack of top management support” as a choice.
First graph shows the Lean Blog results (click on any chart or table for a larger view). The top answers are also shown in the table below:
Note the results of “Lack of top management support” at 35.5%. It’s not that far off than the other parties who are blamed (middle managers, supervisors, and employees), at least within a statistical margin of error. I wonder if there’s a strong correlation between these — do you tend to see poor middle management buy in or employee buy in when you also do not have top management support? I can dig deeper into the data to answer that question later.
The chart below shows the comparison between the LeanBlog results and the LEI results (the red bars).
It could be partly due to the sample size differences, but it’s interesting to see that the LEI results aren’t duplicated exactly, as shown in the table to the left. Is it partly due to slightly different audiences for the Lean Blog and the LEI mailing list? I’ll post the demographics for the survey respondents later and I’ll look for trends or disparities in the results among those sub-populations (such as large company vs small).
The biggest discrepancies between the surveys were:
- Flavor of the month (29.9 points higher in my survey)
- Backsliding (29.7 higher)
- Financial value not recognized (27.4 higher)
- Failure to overcome opposition (20.8 higher)
- Failure of past lean projects (17.1 higher)
- Cultural and communication issues with offshore facilities
- Program hijacked to accomplish unrelated agenda
- Fear of Failing
- Dysfunctional employee relations which results in lack of Trust
- Activity Based Costing not available
- Enough people/time to implement improvements
- Lack of understanding what Lean is
- Start-up company that doesn’t think it can handle it right now
- Fire fighter heroes.
- Just starting, not enough time to train for knowledge – to change the thinking
- Systemic Resistance (too hard to change processes on the floor)
- Use of Traditional metrics to measure Lean progress at Corporate level
- Too much other work to do
- No slack capacity
- Time to break away from firefighting
- Too many initiatives jostling for attention
- Ingrained fire fighting and “Do” without thinking “compliance” culture
- Lack of engagement of entire organization towards vision
Lack of time is a fairly consistent theme. That’s a classic “Catch 22” I guess. We need to improve, but we don’t have time to improve because of all of the waste in the system. How have people gotten around that to jump start the Lean process? Once you get going, you should be able to free up time and capacity for further improvement, but just getting started can be a challenge.
Getting away from the firefighting mentality can be a real challenge, whether in manufacturing or healthcare. I think that’s just human nature, the desire to firefight. Many people find joy and pleasure in working around broken systems, expediting, getting things done, etc. With improved processes, you shouldn’t need as much firefighting and that’s a real loss to some in your organization.
In my next post, I will discuss the results of asking the same question in a way that forces respondents to choose the #1 obstacle to their Lean implementation. In future posts, I will examine some of the open ended “5 Whys” style answers and the root causes that people listed.
Any comments, responses, or further questions about the data? There’s a lot to pour through, but lots to talk about and dig into.
We also have our first prize winner, randomly selected. If your email address contains “newg3”, you’ve won a copy of the book
Evolving Excellence: Thoughts on Lean Enterprise Leadership, by Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell (courtesy of Superfactory.com). I’ll email you for your contact info.
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