Seven core concepts of Lean for any business
Let’s take a look at 7 key parts of Lean Thinking that no business can survive without.
- The business focus is providing customer value. Value is the central concept and it is considered to be created by the business for the customer. In Lean the concept of value is seen as a concrete object that can be added in during the production process. A word of forewarning, the customer’s role is defining value and their definition of value changes over time. This means that to keep up with customer demand your business will be in a constant flux. Therefore efficiency in processes is only any good for your business if it keeps up with the instability of customer value.
- The business capability is to skill the workforce to ‘do more with less’. The challenge is to deliver value to the customer but by using least amount of the business resources. Resources include human resource.
- The business task is to understand what the customer values and improve your processes to deliver to the customer what they want and when they want it. The belief is that processes are never perfect, there is always waste and therefore continuous incremental improvement is always needed. The continuous improvement concept provides for slow steady change that keeps your business relevant.
- The business method involves making processes simple, breaking processes down into their smallest parts, analysing each parts role and removing the parts that are not needed. This is visualised by the value stream map and implemented by Plan-Do-Check-Act(PDCA). The method also involves finding the right way to do things, the standard way, so that you only produce to customer demand, not too much or too little but just right and easily replenished. This is what is called a pull system and the approach will remove excess or buffer stock and inventory from your business.
- The business processes needs to flow and have little variation. This means removing obstacles that prevent fluid movement. Obstacles can be any that does not add value for the customer, this is called waste in Lean. Beware not everything can be considered waste as some things are needed to run the entire system.
- The business strategy is to take a long term standpoint for strategic decisions for the business. The belief is that the ideal state of the business can be known and the business strategy is designed to incorporate continuous improvement to get the business from the current state to the future state.
- The business culture involves the entire business but it must centre on social systems because for Lean to exist in a business people to get on board. It is people that put Lean into action. Research shows that if the culture doesn’t endorse Lean successful implementation is impeded. Lean needs to become the way you do business, this is why capturing the minds and hearts of your people is vital for Lean realisation.