Lean is a customer focussed approach to improve operational performance in Quality, Cost, Delivery, Customer and Employees Satisfaction. It is not just a manufacturing or a process mapping exercise, nor just a set of tools and techniques.
This is a journey with multiple distinct phases. To create a lean culture business leaders needs to show the way for employees and management to follow their example:
To successfully sustain a lean approach, businesses must:
… only about tools - Tools do not solve problems, people do! The tools have been proven to work in many situations with the difference being how the tools were applied and their appropriateness for each situation.
… devoid of technology - Although the fundamental principle of lean manufacturing is to design a simple manufacturing system, that does not mean eliminating technology.
… only for manufacturing - Regardless of the environment where lean is applied, benefits can be realised throughout the company in many areas.
... only about waste reduction - Lean is about value with a systematic way to learn to see the inefficiencies in processes and solve these opportunities to grow the business profitably by adding value the customer is willing to pay for.
… only about cost reduction - Lean is all about finding better ways to do things, so that they require less effort, less time and fewer resources, finding and removing waste and cost while maintaining the health of the system.
… only for the frontline operation - Lean is meant to involve the whole business and not intended to be put into action in only one area. It is a management philosophy which should include every part of the business.
… about less (or more with less) - Lean focuses on improving employees, providing more value to the workforce, and, overall, establishing a dependable and stable workforce.
… about zero inventory - Lean doesn’t mean ZERO inventory. Every company environment needs buffers, but they must be well planned and controlled.
… rigid - Lean creates a baseline so improvement can occur by freeing up mental capacity from routine and repetitive work in order to think about how the process could work better. A truly Lean culture respects people and engages them in continuous improvement.
… Mean - Lean implementations that results in just staff layoffs should not be considered successful.