Lean is about the relentless and continuous removal of waste from the processes within an organisation and was an academic description of the Toyota Production System. Waste (or muda) is defined as being a non value added activity - something which has not impact on the customer's perception or value of your service or product
What is lean manufacturing?
In removing waste (and using the correct lean tools) it is claimed that an organisation can achieve 50% lower production costs, 50% less people, 50% less time to market for new products, reduced defects - year on year, higher productivity and higher profitability. By being determined in the pursuit of the elimination of waste many more benefits can accrue - reduced working capital, reduced capital expenditure and constantly being in tune with the voice of the customer.
What about lean in service sectors or professional services?
Lean is applicable to any organisation because any process or system inherently contains waste. So, it does not matter what service you provide the techniques for identifying waste, removing it, improving the value stream and focussing on the customer are the same.
What is the lean enterprise?
A Lean Enterprise starts at the bottom of the above picture and works its way to the top employing the many tools and techniques of lean. At its final stage every component part of the organisation is part of the lean philosophy. It requires working with customers and suppliers to active optimum benefit for all parts of the value stream.
What are the primary elements of lean?
The primary elements of lean appear to be very simple!
1. Takt Time
2. Pull system