How To Overcome the Biggest Obstacles to Kaizen Implementation

Shannon McGarry Shannon McGarry May 29, 2023

4 min read

Learn about the challenges of Kaizen implementation and how to overcome them to increase efficiency and profitability for your business.


There’s a ton of information out there on the reasons behind the popularity, benefits, and tools and techniques for Kaizen implementation. The same cannot be said about the obstacles to Kaizen implementation in the manufacturing context and how to overcome them.

Problems that have been identified include the accumulation of waste, low levels of commitment from employees, defects, dysfunctions, etc.

In order to successfully implement Kaizen, a company needs to have foresight into the challenges that militate against Kaizen implementation. This article examines the biggest challenges of Kaizen implementation. By overcoming these challenges, manufacturers will enhance the efficiency of their operational activities and increase the profitability of the business.

The findings around challenges of Kaizen implementation

There have been several studies on the common problems that prevent the successful implementation of Kaizen in manufacturing. Studies examined why the increasing adoption of Kaisen in manufacturing has not yielded as much success as growing popularity would imply.

Statistics show that the adoption of the methodology doesn’t translate to a high success rate of Kaizen implementation across the manufacturing industry. In one survey of US manufacturers, 90% of 3,000 manufacturing firms admitted to implementing various continuous improvement developments. However, the percentage that was satisfied with the positive results generated from the implementation was just 10%.

In another similar survey, 33% of the 360 firms from Spain and Mexico adopted the Kaizen methodology. However, they’re only a few traces of any valuable improvements among them. In these studies, the biggest obstacles to Kaizen implementation included:

What are the biggest challenges to Kaizen implementation?

Time constraints

The improvement of any manufacturing process is a gradual process that needs time to unfold. The improvement process needs time to procure the necessary inventory of tools and equipment. It also needs all hands on deck to carry everyone along. In addition, time constraints differ depending on the number of people involved and the nature of the problem areas treated.

However, with the correct implementation methodologies, the availability of the right resources, as well a high level of participation, time constraints can be overcome in the implementation of Kaizen.

Lack of adequate resources

One of the most common and pressing challenges of Kaizen implementation is the lack of access to resources. These resources include an all-inclusive budget, Six Sigma or Kaizen training, Kaizen software solutions, as well as manufacturing hardware.

Among these, the lack of Kaizen software is usually the most common and most challenging of them all. That’s how Autodesk Fusion Operations can help. We facilitate the close tracking and monitoring of manufacturing performances, in order to provide insights into the efficiencies of operational activities and quality control.

Miscalculations in goal setting

Poorly defined goals can turn out to be counterproductive to continuous improvement projects. The definition of the most optimal goals for Kaizen implementation is usually the result of a thorough-going examination of all areas of the business. This spans from the acquisition of raw materials to the delivery of the finished products to customers. All in an effort to identify the most consequential problem areas that require improvements. This thorough examination helps identify problem areas that require urgent intervention and areas where challenges may occur in the future.

Most of these areas usually involve the acquisition of inventories, quality checks, and engineering solutions. Once the problematic area is identified, an in-depth analysis of the causes as well as the possible solutions to the problem should be identified. For instance, poor-quality products might be a result of design flaws, dysfunctional machinery, or a lack of employee skills.

Internal and external resistance

Employees and regulatory bodies may fail to properly understand the objectives and the technicalities of a continuous improvement project. This usually leads to both covert and overt resistance.

From managers to production workers to employees in other departments, resistance to Kaizen implementation can come from anywhere. Employees may believe that the improvement processes are actually a threat to the status quo and their positions.

The fact that Kaizen implementation can lead to a reduction of time spent on certain parts of the processes or the complete elimination of such processes can make production workers concerned about their current jobs and the usefulness of their current skill set. To overcome this, employees must be reassured that the improvement processes are meant to expedite production and make work easier. They must also be given proper training.

Inconsistent efforts

One of the most crucial aspects of Kaizen implementation is continuity. Some manufacturing firms may be contented with any measure of progress achieved through the projects. As a result, they may tend to continue implementing the improvement processes with lax consistency, risking a reversion to the old ways. It’s imperative for companies to continue monitoring and enacting the improvement processes even when substantial results have been achieved.

Autodesk Fusion Operations and the path to Kaizen implementation

Kaizen implementation in the manufacturing industry entails curtailing waste in various areas of production. As well as the continuous improvement of workflow, quality, and delivery in the production processes.

Autodesk Fusion Operations can help ensure that the most common obstacles to Kaizen implementation do not prevent you from remaining competitive.

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