What is Lean?

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The goal of Lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.

A Lean process is one that has had the “fat” or “waste” removed from it. We help the people who perform the process identify the eight wastes and test improvements that will eliminate them. People often consider Lean a set of continuous improvement tools, but it is also a different way of thinking and managing an organization focused on continuous improvement and respect for people.

 


Lean Tools

Lean is often used to refer to the continuous improvement tools that are used to identify and eliminate the waste in a process and organization. Some of these common tools are:

5S Poka-Yoke (Error Proofing)
Value Stream Mapping Heijunka (Level Scheduling)
PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment)
Identification of 8 Wastes Single-Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)
Continuous Flow Standardized Work
Kanban (Pull Systems) Takt Time
Root Cause Analysis KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Lean tools are often combined with Six Sigma tools and concepts used to study and reduce process variation.

 


Lean Thinking

Lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services across technologies and departments to the customer. Eliminating waste along these horizontal value streams creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital and less time. Products and services are delivered with high variety, high quality, low cost and very fast throughput times. Typical, long-term improvements from manufacturing and service industries utilizing lean concepts and tools have been quantified as:

  • Cost reduction of 25% – 55%
  • Quality improvement of 50% – 90%
  • Productivity improvement of 45% – 75%
  • Inventory reduction of 60% – 90%
  • Lead times reduced by 50% – 90%

 


Toyota Production System

The term “Lean” was first used to describe the Toyota Production System during the late 1980s. Toyota’s underlying principles of Lean, the Toyota Way, have been outlined as:

Continuous Improvement

  • Challenge: We form a long-term vision, meeting challenges with courage and creativity to realize our dreams
  • Kaizen: We improve our business operations continuously, always driving for innovation and evolution
  • Genchi Genbutsu: Go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions

Respect for People

  • Respect: We respect others, make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and do our best to build mutual trust
  • Teamwork: We stimulate personal and professional growth, share the opportunities of development and maximize individual and team performance

 Toyota Lean Leadership

 


Lean Transformation

A Lean transformation is when an organization moves from traditional mass production, command-and-control thinking to Lean thinking. Lean is well know for significant improvements in manufacturing organizations, but is equally suited for service industries, including healthcare, government, finance, insurance, and education. Members of our team have “lessons learned” from multiple transformations over our careers.