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Most of the Lean is based on the fact of deploying it within the entire company to become what the Japanese call Dantotsu. For this, some key points should not be neglected and steps are to be followed.

The general principle


progress is no more than the amicable revolution.” Victor Hugo

Deploying a process of progress and creating an autonomous and sustainable dynamic are long and complex tasks. Whatever the company, there will always be resistance to progress. It is not realistic to imagine that everyone will go up immediately or in the long term aboard the Lean boat.

« Lean is 20% of tools and 80% of management.  It requires discipline, not to implement it but to maintain and continually improve it. The management is there to support the operational which their jobs is now to continually change their ways of doing. »

David Schlappy, Vice President of Quality Management, happiness Children’s Medical Center.

Driving change to implement a Lean Six Sigma approach is a task that is done in the long run. For example, at Porsche it took 4 years to get conscrets results and start seeing Lean projects in routine.

We offer below a general view allowing to set up a perennial approach. This cycle is based on various models of literature (Wheel of Kanter…).

Lean: A “change built”

In the literature2, there is a grid showing the 4 types of management to be had in relation to a change process. In the case of a Lean approach, we must place ourselves as a “constructed” change process.




Prescribed change

Response to Environmental constraint: regulatory, technological…

12 to 36 months

Intervention Type Management

I propose this solution

Change built

Evolution of the organization that leads to change the mode of representation of the Company by the actors: Culture client, process…

1 to 10 years

Management of type collaboration/Participation

What do you think?”


Change of crisis

Solution to malfunction: Accident, strike, customer complaints…

One day to three months

Management of type direction/coercion

“Ihave decided and you will have to follow us

Adaptive change

Transformation of practices and organization: new IT tool…

6 to 18 months

Education/Communication Type Management

go ahead, I think you can do it!

The steps to the Dantotsu

The Dantotsu (ダントツ- abbreviation of Danzen Toppu) is a Japanese concept meaning “best of the best” or “far ahead of others1. Dantotsu products are unique and have no rivals. Even the worst of the products and at least as good as the best of the competitor2.

A force of daily work, perseverance, benchmarking , deployment of best practices… Your company can achieve a level of performance such that now you are the one who comes to benchmark.

To achieve Dantotsu, you must:

  • Compare yourself to others.
  • Get to know what the best do.
  • Look around you to feed on new ideas.
  • Participate in outside training.
  • Take advantage of your company’s visits by your customers, suppliers…
  • Use internal and external audits.

A good way is also to be evaluated by recognised institutes:

PM Prize

Shingo Prize

Industrial Excellence Award

Automotive Lean Products

Excellence Award


Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance

Shingo Institute

Insead and WHU

Agamus and Automobile Products

Association of Manufacting Excellence

Date created






Sector of application






Geographic sector





North America


TQM Implementation

Lean System in its entirety

Focused on aligning activities and knowledge to achieve the goals

Lean System in its entirety

Lean System in its entirety


The Palm for the TPM

The Nobel Prize for operational Excellence

To reach the Dantotsu, we need to follow a 5-step approach that we detail below.

Step 1: Become aware of the need to change

The initial step of the process is the understanding of the need to evolve and in a general way the need to change our mindset.

Go say and repeat to a smoker ” that it is necessary to stop smokingIf it has not become aware of the need to stop. This awareness is the initial condition of change. Very individual, we will find 3 different types of behaviour towards change3 :

  • the proactive: In favour of change, they position themselves as prescribers. It is estimated that they represent 10% of the actors involved.
  • Liabilities : awaiting conclusive results. They want to be secure. They represent the majority of users, or about 80%.
  • opponents : Opposed to the project, they systematically argue against. They represent 10% of the population.

The tools to make you become aware of changing

  • Self-Assessment: You make an assessment of your situation (evolution of CA and profits, balance of skills…) and to understand the current state of your company. This quantified assessment will highlight one or more constraints and difficulties that you experience in your development.
  • Rating: You can have an evaluation done from outside companies. These same people may be more able to explain your difficulties.
  • SWOT Analysis: ; it will put forward the “why we have to change” and the consequences if we do not change.
  • PESTEL Analysis: It will allow us to understand our environment and the factors influencing our business and our future.
  • The new organizational paradigm: Drivers of change must communicate on the new management mode.
  • Benchmark : It is a powerful tool to understand the difficulties and the points of progress. Participating in Gemba Walk or other types of benchmarking helps to identify our position vis-à-vis your competitors, partners or other sectors of activity.
  • theargument : necessary to anticipate all objections and convince the audience.
  • NLP Powerful communication tool to understand his interlocutor and know how to make himself understood by him.
  • know how to convince without a hierarchical link : Most of the time, a change agent does not have a hierarchical relationship with people. He will have to show certain qualities to convince them.
  •  the Allied Strategy: It is better to take time to convince “positive” people to change than to try to convince the “opponents“.
  • Provoke motivation and implication : Of course, it is necessary for staff to be motivated to change. Still, he must know how to arouse it.

At the end of this stage, management and staff must be aware of the need for change and the need to implement substantive changes in the management and overall functioning of the company.

Step 2: Start with a pilot project to get consensus and trust

The conviction of change is the initial step of a change process. The main challenge of this second stage is to demonstrate on the Gemba That this conviction can actually materialize within his company.

To do this, step 2 must see the first concrete implementation on a pilot area of a Lean project. The first difficulty is to choose the area and the purpose of the project. It will be chosen according to the following criteria:

  • Employees in the area are more likely to be receptive to change.
  • The production line is going to have a big increase in production.
  • Security on this Position is clearly questioned.
  • Management on a line has to meet important problems with the employees (Absentéismes…).
  • Waste is obvious and important.
  • Customer dissatisfactions are commonplace on a product line.

The whole issue of this demonstration is to get results factual and visual to achieve consensus, pledge of trust, and deploy throughout the enterprise. Some tips to achieve this:

  • The change officer in charge of the Lean Project Must have a successful experience in implementing a Lean approach. Potentially, you can get help from external resources to make sure it’s going smoothly.
  • The management team is directly involved in the project.
  • The framework of the project is well defined and the objectives attainable. It is better to achieve the goals and achieve modest results than to set a goal high and not reach it.
  • Present the project as a strategic and long-term desire of the company and not a “punch” action.
  • Use the best-suited tool but also among the simplest to facilitate the understanding of all:

The tools to achieve consensus and trust

  • Training : a Lean company is primarily a learning company. This first phase of realization sees the first formations.
  • the principle of Tatakidai : In our context it means having a sufficiently detailed and factual document to create a constructive exchange and not just a debate of ideas.
  • Planning the project : even more than any other project, a process of change must be driven in a rigorous way. If time or budget overruns are shown, trust can be lost.
  • RACI : This simple tool makes it possible to remember no one in communication and to avoid that people feel excluded.

Step 3: Create the new organization and change behaviors

Now the staff must say “it is upto us to do so”. A process must be structured to support progress, maintain it and deploy culture and tools across the organization. This structuring includes :

  1. Develop the vision of the medium-term action Plan : To establish and display the vision and the steps chosen to reach it allows to mobilize the staff around common objectives.
  2. Create the Lean function: composed of a lean Expert, lean Leader and lean Practitioner.
  3. Creating the Steering committee : Continuous Improvement is a dynamic activity that requires readjustments, support, etc… In this, the Committee must be aware of the company’s overall strategy to align the objectives of the Lean approach with the overall objectives.
  4. Creating a culture of perfection : the same committee and management must also be exemplary in order to create a new culture that is constantly looking for the best.

It is necessary to communicate well the concept of sustainability of this new culture. You are not there for a ” One Shot ». Take the time to make things clear.

The group’s ideas are better than a person’s ideas.

It is the staff who are best placed to change the process.

Tools to change behaviors


  • Appreciative approach : The principle of this communication tool is to see things positively. Changing in a positive way is simply more effective than changing by solving problems.
  • reward each small step: recognition is undoubtedly a key to the success of a project of change. It is necessary to evaluate it in order to greet it well.

Step 4: Deploy the approach and change the habits


The deployment stage sees the implementation of the action plan developed in the previous step. It must be done after a Kick OFF meeting bringing together all the stakeholders to the projects (production, Hr…) to communicate on the deployment plan, objectives, issues…

As time goes by, practices change and become habits. A force of daily work, of recovery, of perseverance, your company and your teams will take new habits and will have changed paradigm : We begin to no longer realize that things have changed and we Wonder “ How to do it before“.

This step mainly uses the following tools: 

  • Piloting Lean projects : A project programme for the current year is planned, followed and posted. The results of each project are communicated and made visible.
  • Solve Problems: The process must help to discover problems and solve them.
  • Quantifying earnings: This is a key point in the success of the process.
  • Train Staff : a training plan must be set up and deployed to reach the ” Critical Mass “. It must include elements on the mindset.
  • communicating internally :
  • Communication is another key point of the process. In partnership with Human resources, we will use the screens, panels, press releases… to show the progress, to make the feedback of experiences…

Tools to change habits

    Step 5: Complete the conversion and Fix the culture

    This is the challenge of cultural change: to be able to establish and maintain a process of permanent change without even realizing that you are in the process of change, since continually improving is the new paradigm. The signs of this culture are visible, all the staff are autonomous in the process and the newcomers feel that the company is in a perpetual dynamic.

    This is the most complex step. Being able to stay in a position of ” comfort ” while being in perpetual change is a global and in-depth work with each person of the company. Change is no longer a constraint but becomes normality.

    To achieve this, the main task will be to deploy the process and dynamics of change to the whole company (purchasing, design, commercial…) and more: Supplier, distributor…

    done smoothly and has a specific peculiarity: ignorance. In many cases, related services have little or no use of this type of transformation methodologies to improve. The priority is to include them in the project at the earliest and to:

      • Integrate staff of support services during progress projects in other services.

    Tools to Fix culture

    • the cycle of autonomy : Autonomy is one of the keys to the success of the process. This concept allows you to understand what it is and how you become self-sufficient.
    • Continuing Education : Training Services must implement training and evaluation plans for all to support the process.
    • Integration processes: It is during the first step in the company that one realizes its culture. From the start, new entrants must be put into the “Bath” of the Lean Six Sigma.
    • Visual Management : Important tool for communication, different visual point can be put in the company to recall the key messages.
    • The assessment of the level of integration : the “Critical mass” must be reached to consider that the culture is anchored.

    Step 6: Climbing to the Dantotsu

    • The staff are trained in Lean, and the ” Critical Mass ” is reached.
    • The staff are autonomous to animate Lean projects.
    • Lean is deployed in all services.
    • The approach is shared with the “Partners” (supplier…).
    • The continuous improvement service is recognized and attached to the management.
    • The improvements are proposed and implemented directly by the operational ones who are constantly questioning the quality of their work.

    Key success Factor

    Deploying such an approach and moving from step to step is a long process. To achieve this, the key factors are:

    • strongly involve management and the Steering Committee from the beginning of the process4.
    • provide the means for the operational to have the opportunity to decide and take part in the changes5.
    • Create internal expertise or use external resources However, it would be a priority to prioritize the training of internal experts in order to promote the sustainability of projects and to promote the change of culture6.
    • Show leadership and discipline7.
    • Train Employees8to reach critical mass and promote acceptance of the project.
    • communicating on the project: all employees must be aware of current and future projects. Transparency on objectives and progress increases the chances of success9.
    • creating Lean Culture10 : to make the process sustainable, culture change is necessary. Staff must be taught how to create value for the customer, identify wastes, propose and implement improvements.

    A study of more than 100 companies shows the first five key factors of success in setting up a Lean approach.

    Source: M. W. Tracey, J. Flinchbaugh (2006)-HR’s role in the Lean organizational Journey

    The causes of failures

    Success or failure in the process does not depend only on the establishment of resources and organization. There are many sources of chess :

    • In 87% of failures: the first reason is that of a lack of clear objectives. Although the branch has the necessary vision to start the program, it has not fully articulated the annual plan of operations.
    • In 79% of failures: the need for change was not understood by staff, as the Directorate-General had not given itself the wrong, communicating the needs of the change, or explaining its reasons.
    • The third reason for chess: There is a quasi absence from the top of the company mobilization and commitment necessary to start up programmes. However, the strong involvement of the leaders was the very first reason for the success of the programs that actually led to such an extent that the President’s personal commitment is mentioned in 78% of successes. In these cases, the leader was able to mobilize the company around the deployment, get everyone’s membership and share their vision and will.
    • The fourth reason for failure: it was allowed the resistance fighters to win. The resistance is always very strong against the deployment of change programs. The management must know how to keep the distance from this one: it must clearly identify the poles of resistance and make it clear that these actors endanger the very future of the company.

    Management commitment or the Pig and Chicken effect


    1 – S. F. Isenberg (1997) – Managed care, outcomes, and quality : A Practical Guide

    2 – C. J. G Gersick (1991)-Revolutionary change theories: A multilevel exploration of the punctuated equilibrium paradigm

    3 – D. Autissier, J. M. Moutot (2003) – Practices in the conduct of change

    4-Y. Hasegawa (2010)-Rediscovering Japanese business leadership: 15 Japanese managers and the companies they’re leading to new growth

    5 – R. J. Holden (2011) – Lean Thinking in emergency parts: a critical review

    6 – B. D. Krichbaum (2007) – Lean Success factor: 10 Lessons from Lean

    7 – B. Poksinska (2010) – The Current state of Lean implementation in health care

    6 – B. A. Fine, B. Golden, R. Hannam, D. Morra (2009) – Leading Lean: A Canadian healthcare leader’s Guide

    7 – J. Aherne (2007) – Think Lean

    8 – R. H. Westgaard, J. Winkel (2011) – Occupational muscloskeletal and metal Health: significance of rationalization and opportunities to create sustainable production system

    9 – D. L. Scott (2011) – Process principles and improvements : A case study of the healthcare industry

    10-J. P. Womack, D. T Jones (2003): Lean system: Thinking about the company at the fairest

    C. Rousseau (2013) – Lean Manufacturing : The secrets of your company’s success

    P. Dupin (2014) : Lean applied to construction

    C. Hohmann (2012) – Lean Management : Tools, methods, feedback, questions/answers

    R. M. Kanter (1983)-Change Masters: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation

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