Cultural Challenges rolling out Lean in China

In order to succeed deploying Lean in China, you must understand that it cannot be rolled out in the same way as in Europe the US or in which may have worked well in your own country, and just apply it in Chinese companies.

Here my TOP 5 learning after deploying Lean in Asia for 4 years.


You must be flexible, willing to learn and adjust to a country that runs business according to the Chinese Way respecting and understanding the country traditions.


Without an additional local Sensei and close support in China, it will be very difficult to ensure that the core methodology is being applied as it should, guaranteeing the same quality support as in other countries.


Be prepared to give more from you as a Sensei, Chinese people want to see it, touch it and understand before they are asked to do it. As they are humble they tend to the modus of “…give us an example and we’ll do it…”, Vs. a more observed challenging attitude in other countries.


Don’t underestimate the Chinese way of working, they can deliver an outstanding quality and work precision even in challenging environments. If you apply the required energy on making the goals clear, you will be surprised on the excellence levels the teams will achieve.  


Understand “Guanxi” (Relationship). The necessity of building solid relationships is not something new. However, in China, having guanxi is making part of the Business. You will never be able to win the people just through official business meetings, emails and calls. It is essential to invest time getting to know your Chinese customers outside the meeting room.

If you are interested to know more don’t hesitate contacting me -

Ivo Lopes, Six Sigma Master Black Belt / Lean Sensei


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