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Leadership and management

Thus, in order to succinctly implement the concept of lean manufacturing successfully within
SMEs, the recipient companies should harbour strong leadership traits capable of exhibiting
excellent project management styles. In essence, these qualities would facilitate the
integration of all infrastructures within an organisation, since strong leadership and
management permeates a vision and strategy for generating, while permitting a exible
organisational structure. Good leadership ultimately fosters effective skills and knowledge
enhancement amongst its workforce. The supportive elements which shown in Figure 4,
therefore, benet the potential SMEs intending to implement the lean concept by the
provision of resource availability, willingness to learn and acquire new ideas and technologies
for its corporate competitiveness. SMEs would then be able to implement the concept of lean
manufacturing successfully. Unfortunately, this study has found most SMEs to be by default,
owner managers who may not have the tactful management know-how. Consequently, a large
number of SMEs are hampered strategically due to a lack of quality strategic drives from
good leadership traits. Moreover, this research investigation has established that strategic
improvement initiatives are now the norm for most organisations throughout the world today.
Leadership behaviour and rewards are then too easily focused on the management of a
continuous series of short-term crises, whilst the implementation of lean manufacturing that
could create a rmer base for success by reducing costs and improving use of resources can
be subject to continuous postponements until better times.

Financial capabilities
Financial capacity is a crucial factor in the determination of any successful project. This is
due to the fact that nance covers the avenues through which other useful provisions like
consultancy and training can be made. The study has also realised that SMEs are nancially
inept and harbour poor nancing arrangements. Financial inadequacy is thus a major
hindrance to the adoption and subsequent implementation of successful lean manufacturing
within SMEs. They fear that the application of lean manufacturing, like any other productivity
improvement initiative within any organisation, could require nancial resources to hire
consultants, as well as to aid the actual implementation of such ideas. Training of people to
utilise the techniques also requires nancial resources. In some instances, production of rms
may be ceased temporarily in order for the workforce to embrace such knowledge; a fact that
SMEs view as an unnecessary loss of resources, more especially if they do not anticipate
immediate returns.
Skills and expertise
The nancial incapacitation discussed above ripples through the SMEs strategic framework,
hampering critical success factors such as skills and expertise. The future of manufacturing in
the UK also lies in the use of intellectual capital and ability to innovate and differentiate. Most
SMEs employ people with low skills levels, and they do not foster the ideology of skill
enhancement. This in the nal analysis derails the very basic core of improvement strategies
such as lean manufacturing, since some technicalities in the application process require

employee skills and expertise. Moreover, low level employee skills would not harness the
desire for technology development.
Organisational culture
The creation of a supportive organisational culture is an essential platform for the
implementation of lean manufacturing. High-performing companies are those with a culture
of sustainable and proactive improvement. Manufacturing, almost more than any other sector,
is a global industry. The study further confers that the ability to operate in diverse
environments is a pre-requisite for managers. The investigation has clearly indicated that it is
highly desirable to have some degree of communication skills, long-term focus and strategic
team while intending to implement any new initiative. Most large organisations are conscious
of this, regardless of their choice of cultural models or success in using them, but many SMEs
by default, reect in their culture the personality of the owner/manager and are constrained by
this in terms of the changes they may be able to undertake.
The four issues listed above can be regarded as the top level critical factors that may
determine the success of a lean project. Responses from various interviewees indicate that
these four factors can be broken down further into detail as follows. Under the leadership
factor, management should have clear vision and strategic initiatives, good level of education
and the willingness to support productivity improvement initiatives like lean manufacturing.
The organisational culture criterion includes; management ability to operate in diverse
environment, easy acceptance of change and long-term focus on their roles. Financially, the
criterion includes the availability of funds to enable capital investment and strong nancial
management. Skills and expertise criterion includes the recruitment and enhancement of
capable workforce and provision of training and innovation.

This paper has described the realisation of critical success factors determining a successful
implementation of lean manufacturing within SMEs environment. The identied critical
success factors have provided a useful insight for the enhancement of critical decision-making
process, needed for the delivery of corporate strategic ambitions towards the implementation
of lean manufacturing. The study maintains that lack of adequate funding denies many SMEs
the opportunity to hire their ideal management team, and that they, therefore, suffer from lack
of astute leadership and planning. This factor prevents SMEs from implementing good
productivity improvement strategies such as lean manufacturing. The funding and leadership
deciencies inhibit other productivity initiatives such as workforce training, denying SMEs
the benets of improvement in knowledge, skills and cultural awareness. Inevitably, effective
application and utilisation of lean manufacturing within SMEs will be delayed or may not be
achieved at all unless SMEs restructure their focus to become more receptive and capable of
absorbing new ideas.
Equally crucial to this study, is also the outcome derived from the analysis of the
behavioural patterns of certain characteristics of the investigated SMEs. There exists a
correlation between the SMEs management styles and several outputs such as lead-time,
number of employees and the return on investments (ROIs). It is fair to assert, based on

observations obtained from this study so far, that the independently managed SMEs in the
investigated sample have demonstrated a feasibility of enormous increases in the level of ROI
as compared to those of the owner-managed SMEs. More so, independently managed SMEs
provided easier access to their companies for this research investigation as opposed to ownermanaged ones. Hence, although the rate at which output like lead-time have been reduced
favours the owner-managed companies, yet the disparity between the two variables do not
provide much difference. Perhaps this has resulted from the line of operatives in the ownermanaged SMEs who are constantly on the watch, hence shorter lead-times.
Finally, it should be pointed out that a further limitation to this study is continued
scepticism within SMEs about the benets of lean to their business. SMEs are, therefore, not
very willing to provide useful information and data for timely, further investigation.
Furthermore, results obtained from these investigated SMEs should be treated with caution as
indicative, but far from conclusive since observations involved a limited number of both
independently and owner-managed SMEs. Future work should lead to a wider spectrum of
SMEs in order to derive a more concrete multi-variant analysis on the relations between the
two variables.