"The use of the term 'Lean,' in a business or manufacturing environment, describes a philosophy that incorporates a collection of tools and techniques into the business processes to optimize time, human resources, assets, and productivity, while improving the quality level of products and services to their customers. Becoming 'Lean' is a commitment to a process and a tremendous learning experience should you attempt to implement Lean principles and practices into your organization."
What is Lean?
Lean is a philosophy that guides an organization's improvement initiatives. These initiatives are based on a respect for people, they are customer focused and carried out by process stakeholders at all levels in an organization. Lean practices focus on the identification and elimination of waste.
The philosophy is largely derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS, one of the most studied operations in the world, has a production approach that led Toyota to be a leader in producing quality automobiles at competitive prices, in the most efficient manner.
The Five Principles of Lean Practice
Five key principles guide the Lean philosophy and approach to Continuous Improvement. They are:
- Customers—Specify value from the standpoint of the customer. Understand who your customer(s) are and identify what is important to them.
- Value Stream—Identify the value stream for each product or service—the value stream is the steps and activities done to deliver the product or service to the customer.
- Flow—Make the steps occur so the product or service will flow smoothly toward the customer. Eliminate steps that do not create value for the customer.
- Pull—As flow is introduced, pull is established by producing or servicing based on customer demand.
- Continuous Improvement—Seek perfection, begin the process again and continue to make improvements and celebrate success.