The New England Lean Podcast: 5: The Fallacy of “Lean Transformation Failure” Rates

After having a couple people reach out to seek clarification about comments I’ve made on the podcast, I thought recording a Bonus episode would be a good idea to help present my thoughts…

You see, I don’t believe in a high percentage of “Lean Transformation Failure”. Those who claim such things are often employing the Illusory Truth Effect – meaning they’ve heard the wrong thing so many times, they’ve come to believe that it’s true. Social Media is littered with non-sited articles that claim 75%+ Lean failure rates, and it’s simply not true. Based on anecdotal data (at best), I think it’s disrespectful to be throwing out percentages like this, especially by those who, in the next breath, claim to uphold the Scientific Method.

To claim a high failure rate percentage is to also say that that same percentage of all of our efforts, all of time in Kaizen events, all of the group meetings, team building activities, etc. were all (mostly) a failure. As my dad says, “They’re full of what makes the grass grow green”.

And thus, I present to you my thoughts on the subject. After doing this for more than 20 years, I’ll say that what I see, in copious amounts, are people who are still figuring it out. Still trying to get it right. Not giving up. THAT’S Lean. THAT’S Respect For People. Ignore the naysayers and people yelling from the cheap seats. Keep moving forward… that’s what Continuous Improvement is!

Link to original blog post:

Followup blog post (and sneak peek at an article from next week’s guest!):