It is because Lean management represents an implied threat to top leaders. The threat, simply put is as follows:
“You’ve been doing a bad job.”
“Everything you know and have done is wrong.”
It is a highly negative message for leaders, one that quickly provokes an emotional reaction rather than a thoughtful intellectual response. Most top leaders, with decades of experience and decades of positive feedback, cannot accept this message and will therefore resist Lean. (Thankfully, a few leaders will quickly agree that they have been doing a bad job and want to learn how to do a good job).
Lean is more advanced way to think and do things compared to conventional management that defines the current state. This is nearly impossible to comprehend by top leaders who are fully vested in the current state in knowledge, practice, and ego.
A great majority, perhaps more than 95 percent, will never “get it.” That is why it is so important that you do not wait for your leaders to “get it.”
As Sensei Nakao says:
“Kaizen means taking action; go to the genba now, deal with the facts now. Always take action; that is the key. This concept needs to go to the next generation for kaizen to survive and thrive, to continuously succeed.”
It’s all up to you.