The experts know.  Both Professor Liker and James Franz state that the implementation of Lean in organizations over the past 30 year hasn’t replicated the productivity gains made by Toyota.  In a way, this is disturbing.  As described in the article, the Toyota Way is a coaching model with a teacher/student relationship.  The Lean approach by most organizations turned into a project focused model with measurable determined through kaizen events.

To stir organizations toward the correct approach of Lean implementation, the authors suggest a review of the following barriers to properly implement a system that improves continually and respects people though coaching or development.

  • Barrier 1: An Epidemic of Short-Term Thinking
  • Barrier 2: Underlying View that Sees Organizations as Machines
  • Barrier 3: Fundamental Misunderstanding of What it Takes to Learn and Improve
  • Barrier 4: Misunderstanding of the Purpose of Lean Tools
  • The Answer: See Lean as a System Linking Business Strategy to Personal Accountability

Some key factors that provide successful Lean implementations include:

  • A strong, committed leadership team that believes the teacher/coach model of people development is mandatory;
  • An admission that problems, while painful in the short term, are learning opportunities and are valuable to the company;
  • Seeing lean as an integrated system and not simply a collection of clever tools;
  • Recognizing process improvements can only be sustained by raising the level of development of the teams that are using the process;
  • A long-term commitment to learning and development to provide the basis for a continuous-improvement culture;
  • People spending enough time in an area of specialty to develop deep functional knowledge and expertise; and
  • Lean coaches who are respected teachers and not simply another ‘pair of hands’ whose job is to solve your problems.

The authors suggest that for Lean to succeed, strong leadership is essential along with a developed culture of continuous improvement provides the proper foundation for Lean.

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Gary Kapanowski – Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt – Excelsior

The following blog is the opinion of Gary Kapanowski and  It is the sole intent to broadcast this opinion from Gary Kapanowski and exclusively and not to reflect on any other institutions or organizations associated with Gary Kapanowski or

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