The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.
A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.
Lean is about creating the most value for the customer while minimizing resources, time, energy and effort. A lean approach to work is about:
- understanding what’s really going on at the place where value is created – commonly known as the gemba.
- improving the processes by which products and services are created and delivered.
- developing and empowering people through problem solving and coaching.
- developing leaders and an effective management system.
A popular misconception is that lean is suited only for manufacturing. Not true. Lean applies in every business and every process. It is not a tactic or a cost reduction program, but a way of thinking and acting for an entire organization.
The term “lean” was coined to describe Toyota’s business during the late 1980s by a research team headed by Jim Womack, Ph.D., at MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program. Now, Businesses in all industries and services, including healthcare and governments, are using lean principles as the way they think and do.
“Just as a carpenter needs a vision of what to build in order to get the full benefit of a hammer, Lean Thinkers need a vision before picking up our lean tools,” said Womack. “Thinking deeply about purpose, process, people is the key to doing this.”
Purpose, Process, People
Womack and Jones recommend that managers and executives embarked on lean transformations think about three fundamental business issues that should guide the transformation of the entire organization:
Purpose: What customer problems will the enterprise solve to achieve its own purpose of prospering?
Process: How will the organization assess each major value stream to make sure each step is valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible, and that all the steps are linked by flow, pull, and leveling?
People: How can the organization ensure that every important process has someone responsible for continually evaluating that value stream in terms of business purpose and lean process? How can everyone touching the value stream be actively engaged in operating it correctly and continually improving it?
Not Clear yet, Here’s a YouTube video on the LGN’s Lean Transformation Model, narrated by John Shook.
Lean Thinking has sold more than 300,000 copies in the English language hardcover version alone because it’s an indispensable companion for every manager making the lean journey.
The authors begin by summarizing the five inherent principles in any lean system:
- Correctly specify value so you are providing what the customer actually wants
- Identify the value stream for each product family and remove the wasted steps that don’t create value but do create muda (waste)
- Make the remaining value-creating steps flow continuously to drastically shorten throughput times
- Allow the customer to pull value from your rapid-response value streams as needed (rather than pushing products toward the customer on the basis of forecasts)
- Never relax until you reach perfection, which is the delivery of pure value instantaneously with zero muda. (The first part of Lean Thinking devotes a chapter to each of these principles.)
In the second part, the authors describe in detail how managers in a wide range of companies and industries – small, medium and large, North American, European, and Japanese – transformed their business by applying the principlesof lean thinking. Chapters are devoted to Pratt & Whitney, Wiremold and Lantech in North America, Porsche in Germany, and Showa Manufacturing in Japan.
Based on these cases and many others as well, the authors summarize in the last part of Lean Thinking the necessary steps in the necessary sequence to apply lean thinking successfully in your business. They pay special attention to the need to map product-family value streams at the outset in order to identify the most important areas for improvement and to avoid wasted effort on activities that may be technically challenging but which are of little importance to your business.