Frequently Asked Questions
What is Lean?
"Lean" is considered a philosophy of continuous improvement. A lean organization focuses on increasing customer value, the elimination of waste and optimizing operations. The key components of Lean can be applied to all types of businesses and processes.
In addition to reducing wastes and improving a specific process, Lean is also about building a culture, one that respects all employees and enables them to pursue opportunities to improve their work and share ideas for continuous improvement.
Be sure to get in touch with Michigan Tech's Manager of Process Improvement with any questions.
What are the benefits of Lean?
A Lean approach to continuous improvement provides us with a concrete method to examine work processes. The tools we use are tested and the cross-functional teams often bring new perspectives to the table.
Lean thinking can provide improved value for the customer by:
- Improving the quality of work processes
- Reducing errors or defects in work processes
- Reducing costs
- Improving flow of the process
- Simplifying complex processes
- Reducing lead time
- Improving employee morale
How long has MIchigan Tech been involved with Lean?
Michigan Tech adopted the Lean approach to continuous improvement in early 2008.
Does Lean mean cutting positions?
No, Lean is not about eliminating jobs. It's about respecting all employees and enabling them to pursue ideas and opportunities to improve their work. Oftentimes, Lean improvements result in time savings and freed-up resources. This becomes a great opportunity to devote those savings to other areas and to new ideas.
What kinds of waste does Lean seek to eliminate?
Waste in Lean is known as the three Ms - muda (waste), mura (unevenness), and muri (overburden). Mura refers to variations or inconsistencies in a process; muri concerns overburden or unreasonableness in a process.
Muda is further divided into eight forms of waste:
- Motion - unnecessary movement of people
- Waiting - people waiting for people, information, products, equipment, etc.
- Movement - unnecessary movement of "things"
- Correction - incomplete or incorrect information
- Over Processing - doing more than necessary to produce a product or service
- Overproduction - doing or making more than needed
- Inventory - excess supplies, paperwork, information or equipment
- Knowledge - not utilizing an individual's full capacity (knowledge, skills, aptitude and/or creativity)
What is a "Quick Point"?
Quick Points are found on the Tools and Templates page. The term, "Quick Point" refers to our 1-2 page reference sheets for Lean tools and templates. Each Quick Point introduces you to the tool or template and, if applicable, will walk you through basic steps explaining how to use it.