Why Lean

Lean Thinking came about with the attempt to understand the practices that Toyota was applying to close in on the big 3 automotive companies at the time.

First, the book ‘Machine That Changed the World’ identified the gap between Toyota and the rest, then ‘Lean Thinking’ helped us to understand the new management thinking and help us start on our very own Lean Journey.

Although Lean’s origins were largely from the automotive manufacturing sector, the principles and techniques have since been transferred to a wide range of business sectors, often with little adaptation.  And as well automotive and manufacturing businesses from financial services, healthcare, distribution, retailing, technology, construction, defence and public sector have all begun to implement Lean thinking and practice to get ahead of the competition by delivering a step change in performance.

Lean is Not an Option

“In today’s global business environment, Lean is not an option it’s something that everyone has to do, if we are not doing Lean:

  • Our lead times will be too long
  • Inventory will be too high
  • Costs will be too high
  • Service will be too low

And we will then lose out to the competition, we owe it to every employee to implement Lean at an accelerated rate to beat the competition and stay ahead of the game”.

David Bailey, Vice President of Operations, Parker Hannifin

Common Approaches

Over the years various approaches to Lean transformation & business improvement have been developed, and whilst most organisations now have their own variant of the Toyota’s Production System most still fall into one of three common approaches.

Common Approaches Developed to Deploy Lean Thinking

Tool Based Approach

Tool Based Approach

Cherry Picking Lean Improvement Tools, e.g:

  • 5s Housekeeping
  • SMED (quick changeover)
  • Poka-yoke (mistake proofing)
  • Standard Work
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Then PDCA etc
Improvement Event Approach

Improvement Event Approach

Use of project teams to drive Lean Improvement activities, usually facilitated by Lean Champions or SSBB, e.g:

  • Kaizen (Daily or incremental)
  • Kaizen (Event)
  • Value Stream Mapping
Lean Management Systems

Lean Management Systems

Development of business wide systems to support Lean behaviour, e.g:

  • Lean Structures
  • Subject Matter Experts (e.g. Champions & SSBB)
  • Roles & Responsibilities (e.g. change to roles)
  • Reporting
  • Lean Roadmaps
  • Lean Assessment tools
  • Benchmarking Awards (e.g. Shingo Prize, AME etc)

  Are you holding back your Organization!

“If you are in a leadership position, whether it be a team leader, department manager or director and you are not applying Lean, in way that builds long term capability to improve the work then you are in fact holding back yourself, your team and your organisation”.

Darren Walsh, BreakThrough Improvement.

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