What is Lean Management?

A lean quality management system refers to a method of managing an organization that supports continuous improvements. This is a long-term strategy that seeks incremental, small changes in processes to improve quality and efficiency.

Lean quality management’s primary goal is to create value for customers through the optimization of resources and a consistent workflow that is based on customer needs. It seeks to reduce time, effort, and money. This is done by identifying every step of a business process, then revising or removing steps that don’t create value. This philosophy is rooted in manufacturing.

Lean management is focused on:

  • Value definition from the perspective of the customer.
  • All waste must be eliminated from business processes
  • Continuously improving all aspects of work, people, and purposes.

Lean management encourages collaboration and accountability; continuous improvement ensures that everyone contributes to the improvement process. This management method can be used to build a solid, successful organization by identifying and solving real problems.

The Toyota production system, which was established in the late 1940s, is the basis of lean management. Toyota implemented the five principles of lean management to reduce the number of non-productive processes. This became the Toyota Way. They saw significant improvements in productivity, efficiency, cost efficiency, cycle time, and cost efficiency by implementing the five principles.

Five principles of lean management

Five principles are the basis of lean quality management. They can be used as guidelines by managers in an organization to implement the lean method. These are the five principles:

  1. Identify the value
  2. Value stream mapping
  3. Establish a continuous workflow
  4. Set up a pull system
  5. Encourage continuous improvement

The first step of lean management is to identify value. This means identifying the problem the customer has and creating the product that solves it. The product must be part of the solution that customers are willing to pay for. Any activity or process that doesn’t add value to the final product, such as if it is not useful, worth, or important, should be stopped.

Value stream mapping is the process of mapping the company’s workflow. This includes all actions that contribute to creating and delivering the final product to the customer. Managers can use value stream mapping to identify which teams are responsible for leading the processes and who is responsible for measuring, evaluating, and improving them. This visualization allows managers to identify which components of the system are not adding value.

Maintaining a consistent workflow means ensuring that each team’s workflow is moving smoothly. It also helps to avoid any bottlenecks caused by cross-functional collaboration. Kanban is a lean management technique that uses a visual cue for triggering action. It allows teams to communicate easily so they can address the issues and who to contact. This allows for the removal of roadblocks and process interruptions by breaking down the entire work process into smaller pieces.

A pull system ensures that the ongoing workflow is stable and that work assignments are delivered faster and with less effort. A pull system is a lean method that reduces waste in any production process. This system ensures that new work can only be started when there is demand. It also optimizes storage costs and overhead.

These are the four core principles of lean management. The most important step in lean management is continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement refers to a range of techniques used to identify the company’s past, present, and future activities, as well as any obstacles or opportunities that might arise. Lean management is not a static system. Therefore, problems can arise in any of the four steps. Ensure that all employees are contributing to the improvement of the workflow. This will help prevent any problems from arising.

The Roots of Lean

Lean wasn’t born in a classroom. Lean actually comes from Toyota, the company that manufactures the most successful cars. Because it is based on the Toyota Production System, the Lean movement has been called The Toyota Way.

James Womack was the leader of the team that shared this information with the rest of the world. He went to Japan. He co-authored the Machine That Changed the World, and later, Womack and Daniel Roos wrote another book on the Toyota Way: Lean Thinking. These books are still a major part of Lean management education.

Lean, inspired by Toyota’s methods, provides a framework that helps business owners answer the questions that are most important, regardless of where they are in their business. It is crucial to know where the best time and money should be invested for future performance.

Lean Management: Examples

Lean management principles can be used to improve the overall performance of companies.

Here are some examples of lean production and business processes that are based on the Lean Management concept:

  • Lean manufacturing
  • Lean software development
  • Lean six sigma
  • Lean startup
  • Value-based Healthcare

Lean management has many benefits

What are the benefits of lean quality management?
What are the benefits of lean quality management?

Organizations can benefit from Lean management by focusing on improving every aspect of their work process at every level of the organization’s hierarchy. Managers are able to reap the following benefits:

  • Intelligent business processes – The pull system makes it possible to only do work when there is a demand for it.
  • Increased resource use – The pull method ensures that the organization only uses resources when they are necessary since it is based on actual customer demand.
  • Lean management reduces waste and allows employees to focus more on the tasks that create value.
  • Increased productivity and efficiency – Focused attention leads to more productive and efficient workers.

These benefits combine to make a company more flexible and more able to respond quickly to customer needs. The lean management system is a solid production system with a greater chance of improving the company’s overall performance.

How can Lean benefit my business?

Although Lean quality is best suited for manufacturing companies such as Toyota, it can be used in any type of business. Lean can be used to improve any company’s performance. It is applicable to all types of businesses, including those that are in the healthcare sector, a PR firm, a software company, or a service company.

Lean is a management system that focuses on the whole business, not just the production of a product. It doesn’t matter if your business produces physical products. Lean, unlike other management systems, improve the whole value stream, not just a single point. This makes it easy to replicate between different business types.

Lean, for example, has helped Intel, the computing leader, to stay ahead in the competition. Joe Foley, factory manager at Intel Fab Operations, Ireland, stated that five years ago it took 14 weeks to bring a new chip into our factory. Now it takes only 10 days. These times were first achieved by an Intel factory using Lean principles.

What benefits have you seen in your business by implementing Lean Management?

Let us know in the comments below.