There is considerable interest to apply the principles of Lean Manufacturing in the Service Industry – sometimes called Lean Services. The motivation comes from the fact that the Toyota Production System – also known as Lean Manufacturing – has been very successful in transforming manufacturing. The popular thought is that those same lean principles that has transformed manufacturing could do the same for services.
I have applied the principles of Lean Manufacturing in both services and manufacturing and I’ve learned the subtle difference in both contexts and also how one might apply lean to one versus the other.
What is unwise is the blind copying of the tools of lean manufacturing, thinking that they will work in services. The fact is that manufacturing and services are very different.
Let me attempt to highlight how a service business is different from a manufacturing business.
Difference Between Service and Manufacturing
In the next several posts, I’ll cover each of the items in the above comparison chart and show how service is different from manufacturing, which should also highlight how the principles of Lean Manufacturing can be appropriately applied in the different contexts.