I recently completed a “Lean 101-Principles of Manufacturing” training. The training included several rounds of practice in which the group attempted to manufacture a fake product. During the first practice module we easily spotted the manufacturing bottleneck. Unfinished goods piled up in front of the bottleneck and production stalled after the bottleneck.

Here’s a real-life example. During a client meeting, I suggested that a web application might solve their problem. The Director of Operations leaned forward with interest. He hadn’t thought of that option. Then he slowly leaned back and replied, “If it means our IT department has to create or do something new we can’t do it.” I immediately knew the IT department was the  place where that company’s “unfinished goods” piled up and production stalled.

Bottlenecks stagnate processes,
drain resources, and strangle potential.

Organizations persistently create bottlenecks – choke points in processes, procedures, structures, or people.

Who’s responsible?

We may try to blame others but, leaders are always responsible for creating, enabling, or tolerating bottlenecks. Therefore, unclogging bottlenecks always begins and ends with organizational leaders.

The leadership team I work with is an organizational bottleneck in at least three common ways.

Talking too much.
Acting too little.
Delegating too slowly.

We’re dealing with leadership bottlenecks by:

Calling for decisions more quickly.
Completing tasks outside our meetings.
Identifying new individuals as first-delegates.


What organizational bottlenecks have you seen?

What strategizes can you suggest for overcoming organizational bottlenecks?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell