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Study - "Dissemination of the LEAN Philosophy for Industrial Companies in Germany"

In cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW), Stuttgart, the IMIG International Management and Innovation Group has prepared a study on the dissemination of the LEAN philosophy and the actual application of Lean principles, methods and tools in the manufacturing industry in Germany. These were presented to the public as part of DHBW's Manufacturing Excellence Day on March 7, 2013 in Stuttgart.


The aim of the study was to investigate in particular the extent to which the LEAN philosophy was introduced and operationally applied, to identify success factors for sustainable implementation and to derive potentials for the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in Germany.

Who was questioned?

As a basis for the survey, the producing companies taken from the list of the top 1,000 German market leaders with the highest turnover (Source: Professor Bernd Venohr for Manager Magazin, 2010). All the companies that participated in the survey already deal with LEAN. Taking into account the fact that, according to expert estimates (source: "Produktion" magazine, issue 02.28.2013), only about 10% of German industrial companies actually use Lean, a usable return rate of 7% is based on representative results with regard to the use of LEAN can be expected. Approximately one-third of the participating companies each come from the automotive and automotive supply industries as well as mechanical and plant engineering. The remaining third is made up of companies from a wide variety of sectors (electronics, electrical engineering, consumer goods, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical and food industries).

For the most part, the companies involved follow the classic path when starting in the production and logistics areas. The application of the LEAN philosophy in the areas of sales, product development and administration is significantly weaker and therefore offers additional potential for increasing competitiveness even further. 

Analyzed success factors for the sustainable implementation of the LEAN philosophy

The following aspects were identified as essential success factors for the sustainable implementation of the LEAN philosophy:

  1. Top management: These are responsible for a clear commitment to Lean management, defining the vision and mission of the Lean approach.
  2. Support from the top management as well as the involvement of employees of all hierarchical levels as an essential element of change ("Changing of Mindset"), so that a culture of continuous improvement can be achieved.
  3. Ensuring the transparency and traceability of the procedure with goal-oriented implementation management, which also ensures the appropriate resources, the alignment to corresponding goals and (process) key figures
    as well as effective communication as a connecting element.
  4. Ensuring a targeted transfer of knowledge and the effective qualification of all involved employees to comply with the congruence principle of task, responsibility and competence.
  5. Holistic, systemic approach with a focus on all relevant business processes.
  6. Goal-oriented design of the company's specific principles, methods and tools.
  7. Clearly defining the responsibilities for the organization of the Lean management approach, adapted to the different hierarchy levels of the employees involved.

With the consideration of the success factors there are excellent possibilities to positively and sustainably influence relevant process key figures. By increasing effectiveness and efficiency, on the one hand, financial key figures can be positively influenced. On the other hand, there is a significant and sustainable increase in the competitiveness of the companies that use LEAN sustainably. The wider use of this potential can make a significant contribution to securing the global competitiveness of German industry in the long term.

More Information

The study was carried out as part of a project by Tobias Niclas Siebold at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, Stuttgart evaluated in the 4th. Quarter of 2012 and in the 1st. Quarter of 2013. The mentoring took place by Dipl.-Ing. Gerald Widmaier, then responsible for "Operational Excellence" at IMIG AG, a global consulting firm headquartered in Leonberg.

The full study can be requested for free at:

IMIG International Management and Innovation Group AG
Uta Windbiel
Poststraße 35-37
71229 Leonberg


Uta Windbiel

Uta Windbiel
Marketing I IMIG Germany

For further information please contact us either by mail: or by phone: +49 7152 928 460.

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