A few weeks ago, I shared about the short sightedness of a cost-savings focus when it comes to lean transformations. Today, I’m sharing another barrier to a successful lean transformation: the struggle to move beyond improvement “events.”

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Lean HR: Redesigning HR Processes for a Culture of Continuous Improvement” – Second Edition, out this spring, intended to help organizations partner with HR to reach the full potential of a lean transformation.

“Some companies think that lean methods are fads that do not deliver sustainable results. Others describe the benefits of lean operational improvement projects as marginally successful. How-ever, most agree that the success from projects and events is typically limited and often not sustainable. This leaves them unsatisfied because they did not achieve their desired or expected results.

When frustrated with outcomes, some people believe that the problem is with their particular organization. Their dissatisfaction leads them to think they must not have the right people to “do” lean or that their products and services are not appropriate for it.

Yet a close examination of lean practitioners reveals that a company’s size, industry, organization, and product type are not linked to the reasons for the failures of these initiatives. Companies that have achieved a lean transformation at some point in their journeys realized that their earlier failures resulted from not being fully invested in what was needed to effect the change they had hoped to accomplish.

When HR professionals are uninvolved with lean work, they are not able to speak to the financial benefits of building lean attitudes, behaviors, and skills. Conversely, if HR professionals were among the leaders of lean efforts, they would be able to speak to the tremendous value of building lean practices into all aspects of the company with and through its people.”

Does your company struggle to move beyond improvement events?

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