Despite the benefits of so-called lean management, there is a danger that organizations will return to their old ways as the economy improves, findings from recent Capgemini Consulting research say. Lean business practices have played a leading role in helping organizations weather the economic downturn, according to "Lean for the Long-Haul: Why Behavior is Key for Sustaining Success." The survey found that cost reduction and bottom-line improvements are the leading business challenges that lean is deployed to tackle.
The survey results also show that dissatisfaction with lean initiatives is highest one to two years after initial launch, when the original wave of optimism generated by short-term results is fading but long-term behavioral changes have not yet become embedded in the organization. Close to 70 percent of respondents were not satisfied with lean programs at the one- to two-year stage after implementation. This is also supported by the finding that resistance to change and organizational culture are seen as the main issues adversely affecting the sustainability of lean programs.
Capgemini Consulting recommends that organizations focus on the following to bring about the needed behavioral change, and sustain lean methods of working over the long term:
• Leadership: in successful lean organizations, leaders at all levels in the organization lead lean initiatives by example.
• Recognition: promotion and retention of those associates who possess deep lean expertise is critical to lean success. This ensures the lean DNA of the organization is preserved and sends the right message about the importance of the lean program to the organization.
• Strategic Alignment: a successful lean program must be driven by a compelling "burning platform" that resonates throughout the entire organization. This burning platform is clearly linked to overall strategy and also clearly reflects the future intent of the organization. Burning platforms that focus solely on cost are best avoided, as these are difficult to mobilize the organization around in the long term and often taint the program as a "headcount only" exercise.
• Performance Management: organizations that have been successful in sustaining their lean initiatives include a lean management system as a fundamental component of their lean program.
"Traditional lean programs with their strong emphasis on lean tools and techniques and much less focus on implementing sustainable behavioral change need to be rethought. The solution requires a new approach to lean," said Jeff Patton, vice president, Supply Chain Management Practice, Capgemini Consulting.
A full copy of the research can be downloaded from: http://www.capgemini.com/insights-and-resources/by-publication/lean-for-the-longhaul-why-behavior-is-key-forsustaining-success/
Source: Capgemini Consulting
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