By Jon Miller | Post Date: August 6, 2007 11:21 PM | Comments: 5
Recently one of our consultants came back from a sales call having received the question from our prospective client "When has your firm failed in consulting engagements? Tell us your Lean failure stories." Not having served as long as some of the rest of us at Gemba (and without the benefit of experiencing these failures), he was stumped.
Rather than have him fabricate failed consulting engagements, or tell stories from failures he was not involved with, we reflected on past failures and concluded that they could be explained in one of three general categories:
1) We let the client drive the car into the ditch. This happens when we accept client changes in scope, targets, priorities, etc. during project even though it was not best way, or even a safe way. This is why we insist on a Lean transformation plan that the client understands and supports through PDCA – regular checks and adjustment to the plan, rather than a sudden jerk at the steering wheel.
2) We let the wrong person drive. Whether it's a question of consultant style, personality, or having said the wrong thing to a Director who walked into the room, sometimes the fit of the consultant and client is wrong. This is why we value the team approach so strongly.
3) We started driving even though the car did not have enough gas. No matter how thorough the current condition assessment, it seems there is always an important detail or two that is left out. Sometimes we are guilty of not digging deep enough, or asking that one extra question, and at other times clients are unaware or not completely forthcoming about cash flow, profitability, management capability, business outlook or other issues. The changes brought on by a Lean transformation expose these things pretty quickly, like trying to race up a mountain on an empty tank of gas.
The analogy of driving a car seemed to fit. Having just returned from a road trip, I can attest to the fact that most of us would never drive a car this way. Yet we do business this way. Why?
Tell us your lean failure stories, but tell us using the automobile as a metaphor, as in the examples above. We will pick three winners at random and send you an Office 5S Quick Guide from of Kaizen Products. Answers posted before noon PST on August 14, 2007 are eligible for the prize draw.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.