Five Obstacles to Implementing Lean

Five Obstacles to Implementing Lean in Small BusinessNathan T. Navarro

Lean manufacturing is a strategy and philosophy developed to shorten the time between the customer’s order request and delivery. The core idea of lean is to maximize product and or service flow based on customer demand and expectations. Lean also provides us with process improvement tools to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in our day to day tasks.  These inefficiencies or “waste” as they call inefficiencies in lean can be identified as defects, waiting, unnecessary motion, excess inventory, unnecessary transportation, over production, over processing and underutilizing employee talents, skills and knowledge.

A common misconception is that lean is only effective in manufacturing. This perspective is inaccurate. If you have a task associated with your job, then lean can be applied. Major businesses including medical, government, service, retail and manufacturing have adopted lean principles to assist in becoming more profitable and competitive. In addition, small businesses are starting to adopt lean principles as a result to the proven accomplishments seen in larger industries. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not prepare for the five major obstacles often associated with lean implementation. As a result of not preparing for the five major implementation obstacles, many lean programs and activities within a small businesses are prematurely abandoned.

The five major obstacles to implement lean within small businesses include: 

  • Insufficient management time to support lean
  • Not understanding the potential benefits of applying lean
  • Underestimating employee attitudes/resistance to change
  • Insufficient workforce skills to implement lean
  • Backsliding to the old inefficient ways of working

EvCC provides training within the Lean Six Sigma and Small Business Accelerator program to help prepare learners on how to overcome the five major obstacles to implanting lean, enabling small businesses to have a successful lean transformation.

Lean transformation is a term commonly used to describe a company moving from an old way of doing business to a lean way of doing business. It requires complete dedication and transformation on how a company conducts business.  Lean is not an end point, it is an ongoing journey that takes a long-term perspective and active commitment.

Author: Nathan T. Navarro, MBA, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Visit the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate page to view detailed information and to sign-up for courses.

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