Art Byrne is a true believer in the power of lean. The former Wiremold Co. CEO -- who came to prominence in Jim Womack's seminal book "Lean Thinking" -- has leveraged lean strategies at more than 30 companies, and the results have been uniformly dramatic.       

"If every company in our country did this, our economy would be booming again," Byrne proclaims. "And we would be pretty difficult to beat."

The reality, though, is that only a "small sliver" of companies are adopting the principles of the Toyota Production System in earnest, Byrne says, "and even within that sliver, not that many are really successful."

Byrne, who continues to champion lean strategies as an operating partner for the Waltham, Mass.-based private-equity firm J.W. Childs Associates, is well-aware of the myriad reasons why lean implementations fail. That, he says, was his impetus for his new book, "Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform their Company."

In a conversation with IndustryWeek, Byrne discusses strategies for sidestepping some of the most common pitfalls.