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Backsliding it the act of reverting to a pre-improvement process.

If you were to plot improvement over time on a run chart, backsliding would give the curve a saw-tooth look to it. A gain followed by a drop, followed by a gain and another drop.

Backsliding is reduced by standardization (i.e. by using Standard Work). It can also be completely prevented by removing tools necessary to do a process ‘the old way.’ This step accelerates the pace of improvement, since there is not a drop after each gain.

One word of caution about backsliding: Sometimes going back is because a new method has a negative impact on job satisfaction and the employees resist the change. But in many cases, the new process is just not working as planned.

In those situations, it is not really backsliding to go back to the old way. Rather, the problem is that the new way wasn’t living up to expectations.

Lean leaders need to go to gemba and watch to see why backsliding is occurring to come up with a plan to prevent it.

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