Lessons Learned and Pitfalls

Lean seems simple, but in practice it can be quite difficult. Therefore some 'lessons learned' and 'pitfalls'... use them to your advantage :)!

    • Recent research shows that successful Lean organizations have different ways of making Lean work for them. In other words: there appears to be no best 'one size fits all' approach. Adaptability and flexibility are not only a goal for an organization, but are also important in the way we design and manage Lean processes.
    • Lean Transformations work especially well when the management team itself pro-actively steers the transformation, applies Lean to their own work and role, works with Lean through the normal hierarchical structure, with the support of Lean coaches, and also does PDCA on the transformation itself.
    • Lean works especially well when it is focused on solving real (business) issues from the perspective of customer value, in 'Flow' with a 'Pull' for learning, where countermeasures are thoroughly tested before they are rolled out with continuous learning and development for everyone.

Known pitfalls:

  • Roll out Lean as a program, with standard tools and techniques, regardless of the issues of the people and organization.
  • Wanting to develop a perfect trajectory: it's more important to start, learn, and adjust and improve the trajectory as you go along.
  • Delegating Lean away to internal (or external) experts: if it is not part of the manager's responsibility, it will not work.
  • Lean is not an implementation system, it is a learning system: you can only learn if you have problems, recognize them and want to work on them!
  • Starting Lean in departments: you risk sub-optimal improvements, it is better to start from a value stream perspective with a group of employees from the entire value stream.


Of course there are many more pitfalls, but you've just learned: you don't learn without problems, so allow yourself your own pitfalls too!