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Lean manufacturing practices have been spreading across the manufacturing industry and beyond for more than three decades now. Although the 2009 Recession prompted many companies to cut back on their Continuous Improvement programs, today seven out of 10 discrete manufacturers cite lean as their primary improvement methodology.
That sounds like good news. Unfortunately, having visited and worked in hundreds of factories around the world, we find that less than one out of 10 manufacturers have been able to sustain their lean efforts beyond the first two to three years. And that estimate is probably optimistic. The first year or two of a lean effort are about right-sizing operations.
Kaizen teams identify waste and capitalize on the high impact opportunities for improving efficiency and reducing costs. Their work can yield some impressive and financially significant results. But despite the early promise, most lean efforts soon fizzle out...