|Why Lean Fails: How to avoid common pitfalls|
|Articles - Features|
|Thursday, 01 March 2012 11:47|
By Ashleigh Johnston
Toronto, Ontario -- March 1, 2012 -- The lean method lends itself well in the manufacturing industry, and a version of the process has been applied effectively in the automotive collision industry. Make no mistake, though, there are challenges to putting lean production into place in the collision repair environment.
At NACE 2011, Tony Passwater of AEII, presented his ideas on “Why Lean Fails” and pointed out the common mistakes people make which prevents successful lean implementations, and how we can recognize and avoid them. Passwater has been involved in the automotive collision industry since 1972, and a student of Kaizen/lean since 1999. He’s worked as a technician, a lead painter, metal technician, structural technician, and has designed and managed collision repair facilities and all facets of the operation. He currently works with shops worldwide on business improvements, including lean/Kaizen implementation.
“Don’t ever implement without the understanding, preparation, commitment, measurement, and strategy involved in how to do it. If you begin to try and go down that path of lean, without a good strategy and those other factors in place, you’re pretty much going to fail at some point in time, it’s going to probably fail, and that’s one thing we want to avoid,” cautioned Passwater.
There are eight key elements to implementing lean successfully, but if you fail to execute these elements properly in one or more areas, you will have limited to no success. The very first commitment that will define your success or failure is taking a major leap of faith. According to Passwater, “If you’re not willing to make that leap of faith, don’t even try.” Eliminating waste will be the second obstacle you face, primarily because one of the greatest obstacles western managers face is in understanding the difference between eliminating and only minimizing.
Passwater spoke about our great quest for the magic button, that a new tool will make all of our problems disappear, and our misconception that lean is going to be like that magic button. Passwater assured us that, “Yes, Kaizen/lean has lots of tools, they have many options to be used, but kaizen and lean is much more than that. There are no magic buttons, and if you continually go to look for those magic buttons you are going to be very inefficient and disappointed. You’re going to try one thing, and then your going to try another, and then another without actually successfully implementing the process.”
Leadership, commitment, understanding, timing, preparation, strategy, measurement and communication with the combination of teamwork are the eight key factors to achieving success in lean. As a leader you have to support the changes 100 percent. If you have any doubt in the process with regard to your commitment, you have a very slim chance of success and improvement. More importantly, it is your responsibility to lead the change and include your employees in the entire process. The biggest untapped resources you have for improvement are your employees.
“Some of the best ideas come from the people that are doing the work. They are the ones that do it everyday, and they are the ones that are going to provide you with your best suggestions,” said Passwater.
“You can know a lot about something but not really understand it,” said Passwater. “One of the biggest mistakes about trying to improve quality is trying to improve quality in the product itself. That’s the wrong approach. You don’t ever try to fix quality by analyzing the product only. You have to go and fix the process you use to make the product or complete the service, and as you improve that process your quality improves.”
Passwater explained that “Without proper preparation it leads to failure, without commitment it leads to failure, without an understanding of what it’s supposed to accomplish it leads to failure, and without leadership it’s going to lead to failure.”
Allowing a suitable amount of time needed to be properly prepared is a common mistake. “If you rush into 5S , you’re just doing a spring cleaning,” warned Passwater. “You have to not only learn as the leader, but you’re going to have to learn to teach the people that are involved in your staff and your organization in regards to it.”
Over and over again, people fall back into old habits shortly after they implement a few quick improvements. Passwater explained that success is often missed due to poor timing.
“You will make the most progress simply by starting with small steps and by continuing to build on them. It’s also important to keep track of your progress because “without measurement everything’s debatable. You need the data,” said Passwater.
The last topics to be touched on were communication and teamwork. Both elements are vital to maintaining a well oiled machine. Passwatersaid that communication is “… very often one way, very often a situation in which we think we are communicating well, we think we are getting that information out, but there is no communication unless both parties understand it.”
Many things can go wrong in this step so it is important to communicate often, and communicate effectively. Ask questions, make sure everyone is on the same page and working together as a team. Passwater stressed that, “… the approach of teamwork is the key difference between failure and success. Without teamwork, you will fail at lean. Teamwork allows you to achieve results you would never be able to achieve individually.”
If you are able to recognize and avoid these common mistakes Passwater touched on when implementing lean in your shop, you will find more success in eliminating the waste and improving your productivity.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 11:50|