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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Pain to Sustain

We’ve all heard it before. In fact, we’ve all probably asked it ourselves once too many times:

“Why is it so difficult to sustain the gains from the kaizen we completed only a couple months ago?!”

Well, the pain to sustaining is too often more than just disinterested, disengaged, and indifferent staff in the workplace. There are certainly many possible root causes contributing to unsuccessful attempts at sustaining gains from process improvement activities. Here are some of the main contributors to the abject failure to launch:

1.       Lack of simple and clear documentation of the new standard or best practice (which should be positioned at the point-of-use for easy access and reference)

2.       Lack of ownership of the process to ensure that the standard is kept alive

3.       Lack of follow-through training, coaching and audits by supervisors to ensure that the new way to doing things is clearly understood and carried out (it takes at least 20 days of constant reminder to change behavior after all)

 However, probably the biggest failure by companies wanting to gain long-term success implementing Lean initiatives is the lack of engagement by their staff in process improvements. Many studies have in fact been done on this and the reality is that in general only about 20% of change succeed when initiatives come from the top-down. This stands in stark contrast to an approximately 80% success factor when people affected are part of the solution to a problem and are engaged in driving the change effort!
In a recent in-house process-time reduction kaizen held at one of our clients, the process owners were given the opportunity to tell their story about the problems they faced and what they did to overcome these problems. 

Change-Over Team Report-out
Start-Up Team Report-Out

Office Team Report-out
The facility was shut down for a full 3 days to facilitate this kaizen event. By the end of the report-out, all the process owners sincerely thanked the business owner for the investment in time and resources and for giving them the opportunity to improve their respective process areas as one team shouting “All for One and One for All”.



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