What is Lean management?
Lean management is management’s activity toward continuously improving an organization efficiency by constantly removing non-value-added activities from the time a customer request a product to the time it’s been delivered (or, more precisely, to the time we’ve cashed the money he paid us for the product sold). This is done by bearing in mind the triple stakeholders of an organization:
- its customers;
- its employees;
- its owners.
How is it done?
Whole books are devoted to how to do it, but it basically comes down to:
- identifying the value created by the organization (what customers buy)
- identifying value streams that deliver this value (how we create value)
- creating a flow in the value streams (interconnecting seamlessly each activities that concur to value creation)
- pulling the flow (use the principles of flow to identify problems in order to solve them)
- seeking perfection (constantly improving the flow in order to achieve a one-piece-flow kind of production where 100% of products are within customers requirements, produced in the shortest time possible, at the least cost possible with maximum safety (physical and moral) for employees
Where does it come from?
Wikipedia has a quite comprehensive entry for Lean manufacturing (but keep in mind that it applies to offices or hospitals as well (non limitative list!)).
Origins of Lean has been traced back to a wide range of concepts:
- Henry Ford‘s works on “line work”
- Supermarkets where customers taking products from stalls trigger replenishment by staff
- Deming‘s continuous improvement ideas (including the Shewart‘s PDCA cycle)
- Efficiency works by US Army “Training With Industry” during World War II