Why Most Lean Six Sigma Projects Fail?


Stats indicate that the success rate for Lean initiatives is hardly over 5%. That means that up to 95% of continuous improvement programs fail to rescue the operation and have no sustainable effect.

The data and my analysis do not claim to be exhaustive but I believe the TRUE ANSWER to the question is provided indirectly by the Lean Six Sigma group on LinkedIn.

Here’s what I discovered today.

As of this morning, the group counted 506,247 members. With LinkedIn population being over 500 Million users, this accounts for 1%. Correct me if I am wrong, this group must be the most popular among the CI-related groups.

One may think that we have quite a few CI specialists here (or Sensei if you prefer a foreign word).

In reality, out of the 30 new conversations in the Lean Six Sigma group today:

28 are redirecting to some other page, mostly outside of Linkedin, with the intent to sell you something.

19 were blatantly irrelevant, just using the group’s popularity to promote their services

11 were least related to what we mean by “Lean Six Sigma”

Only 1 post attempted to initiate a professional discussion related to Lean (but failed, as 3-4 comments is not a discussion).

Only 1 post mentioned “culture” as a critical factor of performance improvement.

With 1 or 2 posts out of 30 talking about CI, we are close to the 5% success rate.

If we want to reverse the stats and get the 95% success rate, we need to realize that continuous improvement as not the result of our certified ability to memorize some Japanese words.

It requires a culture change – which is not what seems to be the focus of 95% of the “CI specialists.”

Read more about this:

Was Starbucks’ venture into Lean useless?

“Lean” is to Businesses as “Weight Watchers” is to Individuals

“LEAN all over the place. But It Does Not Work.”

Performance Improvement History in Formulas

What Do Starbucks and Lean Six Sigma Have In Common?