What is Lean Thinking?
Lean is a collection of operational concepts, frameworks, and approaches for driving continuous improvement in organizations. Lean accompishes this through relentlessly focusing on maximizing customer value while minimizing the 8 wastes.
The 8 Wastes of Lean
- Transportation (excessive movement of material).
- Inventory (too much or too little)
- Movement (human)
- Waiting (for material or information)
- Over production (making too much too soon)
- Over processing (over verifying / over polishing)
- Defects (any failure to meet customer expectations)
- Skills (under utilization of talent)
Common Lean Misconceptions
Lean has a reputation for being a powerful system for improving processes. While accurate, it’s vitally important to recognize, as any lean expert will attest, that lean is not only for improving processes. Lean’s greatest power lies in its ability to improve people. In fact, people play a central role in lean. Therefore, people should be at the core of any lean strategy.
Consider the lean house.
The lean house consists of a few key concepts such as customer value, teamwork, and kaizen (changing for the better). Two vitally important pillars are considered key to holding the lean house up. The first pillar is continuous improvement which include the tools and concepts for process improvement. The second pillar is respect for people which includes human development. For guaranteed success, both pillars should be in place. Without processes, people flounder. Without people, processes fail or stagnate.
Another common misconception is that lean is myopically focused on relentlessly cutting costs and speeding up production. However, this is incorrect. Referring to the lean house once again, the ultimate focus is on increasing customer value. As such, lean is just as concerned with improving quality and stability; that is quality of goods and services and the stability of value-producing processes. In fact, often, quality and stability are more important than increasing speed or decreasing spend. After all, inconsistent processes producing poor quality will likely result in fewer customers.
Why use Lean?
It bears repeating, that lean management can help not only your business but also the lives of your employees and customers Systematic reduction or elimination of each of the 8 wastes results produces happy customers through shorter lead-times, higher quality products, and better experiences. As it turns out, the majority of companies practicing lean reap stunning results while eliminating waste.
- Excess inventory
- Over inspection
Furthermore, the same organizations also enjoy other benefits such as:
- Improved employee engagement and morale
- Reduced operating costs
- Improved safety
If you consider all of these benefits, it leads to increased revenue as well as long-term growth of the organization. You will also gain loyal customers who will keep on coming back.
Adopting the lean in your organization can help in reduction of failures which results to less waste. Lean can also help avoid injuries in the workplace. An obvious benefit from this is more savings for the company that in turn they can pass on to their customers.
Remember that lean can be applied to any individual, profession, department, organization, or industry. Around the world, organizations of all kinds have applied lean tools such as 5S, kaizen, value stream mapping, and kanban to develop people, drive continuous improvement and deliver superior customer value.
Let lean help you in your pursuit of excellence, no matter what field or expertise you are in.