New Lean Enterprise Institute Survey


I'm not sure if the survey is available online, but I'm sure many of you just received the annual email survey from the Lean Enterprise Institute.

Last year, we gave some constructive criticism and feedback to our friends at the LEI that the survey was:

  1. Somewhat blame-ridden (“who” is not buying into Lean?)
  2. Lacking “upper management” as a category (if we're going to point fingers — which we shouldn't — we should include them)

Again, the question posed is:

What are the biggest obstacles to lean implementation at your facility?”

In the spirit of kaizen, the folks at the LEI have changed their survey to include lack of upper management support as an obstacle to Lean. In many organizations, factories, or hospitals, Lean efforts are initiated at middle management levels. If upper management does not support the Lean vision and approach, that can lead to the degradation of Lean efforts.

I guess this change the survey at least creates “equal opportunity” for the blaming. I still think we shouldn't blame. We should ask why people (at any level) don't “buy in” to Lean…. what are they afraid of? What do they stand to lose? What don't they understand about Lean?

If we expect people, at any level, to “buy in” to Lean, then our responsibility is to SELL Lean ideas. Be a leader, sell others on why change is necessary and why Lean is an approach that will work.

What are your obstacles to Lean implementation? Can you do a “5 Whys” analysis of the obstacle?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Having just been learning about Appreciative Inquiry, I wonder if it’s also useful (or perhaps more useful) to do a root cause analysis of the successful aspects of a Lean implementation. I would expect that even in the most difficult implementations, there was success somewhere. I would also expect that analysing these positive deviants will lead to the same understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

    The difference is that we can ground changes in a solution that has already been shown to be successful. I’d suggest that it’s less likely that approaching the situation from the other side will encourage blame.


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