The 4 Most Common Myths About Adopting a Lean Culture


Like most good things, lean has its fair share of detractors. However, before you dismiss the idea of lean implementation at your company, are you guilty of believing any of the most common lean myths? For example, take the rumor that lean is an anti-people way to run your organization. It’s the opposite of true, but far too many people believe this and other pieces of misinformation that’s floating around out there. Here are some of the biggest (and ultimately, most dangerous) misconceptions about lean culture and implementations we’ve encountered:

Lean Means Layoffs

Lean means people are going to be given pink slips, right? Once you’ve improved your processes, documented your methods, and increased the efficiency and quality of your products, you couldn’t possibly need as many people, right?

Actually, this concept is completely false, and here’s why:

  • Lean isn’t an overnight implementation, and expecting it to make a drastic change right away at your organization immediately will only create disappointment.

  • In an ideal lean implementation, you’ll eliminate the concept of employees, and create teams full of cross-trained employees. While your roles and processes can change, you’ll have more options for how to best use your employees.

  • Lean culture turns disengaged workers into engaged team members, who actively work to improve processes and provide feedback.

Lean Costs Too Much

Many people mistakenly believe that they can’t afford to do lean. If you’re struggling with retaining workers or meeting your client’s quality standards and time deadlines, you’re probably worried about the wrong thing. You should be identifying whether you can afford to not do lean.

A lean implementation takes a significant commitment on the part of management and leadership to implement visual management systems, shift their thinking, build relationships, and make other cultural adaptations. These changes all take time, which will definitely cost your organization money.

However, lean organizations will enjoy engaged employees who stay longer and make more significant contributions, happier clients, diminished waste, and other enormous benefits that will contribute to the longevity and fiscal health of your organization.

Change Will Stress Out My Staff

Change can be immensely stressful for organizations. However, why are your employees stressed about the change? It’s probably not a fear of fewer wastes or better communication flow throughout the organization. It’s most likely a fear of layoffs, enormous changes, demotions, pay cuts, or the organization failing.

Stress within an organization is often a byproduct of poor communication on the part of management. Employees don’t fear being challenged or seeing their roles shift. They fear decisions that are made by isolated management, who don’t have relationships with their associates. Be clear about the implications and expectations associated with a lean implementation, and you'll find that stress levels remain quite low.

Lean Complicates Good Decisions

One of the clearest benefits of lean management is that it makes perfect sense. Engaged teams and leaders work to always focus on customers, and get quality products out the door in record time. Processes are continually analyzed, recorded, and improved. Since it’s just good business sense, do you really need to pour time and effort into “doing it right?”

Well, actually, you do. If lean was easy, everyone would be doing it. There wouldn’t be dissatisfied customers, disengaged workers, or sub-par products floating around. Common sense and the easiest path aren’t always the right thing, and taking a highly structured approach to a lean implementation can only work in your favor.

What are some of the most ridiculous - or prevalent - lean myths you’ve encountered to date?

#lean #leanculture #organizationalimprovement #workforceengagement

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