Organization Management Journal


This study focuses on why lean manufacturing change initiatives at a Northern New England company failed to produce sustained results. Consultants and leaders share responsibility for the sustainability of the change initiatives they undertake. Rationally, neither party would undertake a change initiative with the intent to fail, yet clearly, even highly structured and well-tested initiatives often do fail (derail) in practice. This research used an observational methodology to uncover answers to the question, “what are the key factors that can cause the derailment of a well-intended, highly-structured change initiative?” In addition to consistency with findings from other studies on sustaining lean projects, this study further extends those findings and uncovered new variables to consider when implementing lean projects and other structured interventions in general. Based on the results of this study, the authors propose a model of four phases that influence lean project sustainability: foundation, preparation, implementation and sustainability for continuous improvements.