Continuous improvement saves companies time and money by reducing operating overhead. It’s not about cutting people (although that could be a result). Instead, it is about streamlining and efficiency. Efficient workflows, just like having the right people in the right place at the right time, allow us to reduce wasted time and effort. Think about all the time wasted on projects where deadlines are continually shifting, priorities are changing, and the workforce is unskilled or under-resourced to meet the commitments.
There are lots of examples where Lean has been taught and implemented from the middle out, where middle management is responsible for discovering and implementing it before upper management gets on board. This is the reality of how bringing change into an organization sometimes occurs. It can be frustrating, and perhaps means a slower overall adaptation, so it’s important that there be some kind of buy-in from company leadership so that employees don’t see it as something good that will eventually die off.