The term Lean Thinking was coined by James Womack and Daniel Jones in their book by the same name, which captures the magic of the Toyota Production System (TPS). It became a new way of thinking. The focus is to create a lean enterprise, which sustains growth through aligning customer satisfaction with employee satisfaction. A process which offers innovative products or services profitably while minimizing unnecessary over-costs to customers, suppliers and the environment. The basic thought of the concept of lean thinking is that if you train every person to identify wasted time and effort in their own job, they then work together to improve processes by eliminating waste. The end result is an enterprise that delivers more value at less expense, while developing every employee’s confidence, competence and ability to work well with others.
Lean Thinking Principles
There are five guiding principles of lean thinking:
- Value – Understand the value the customer places upon their products and services. The value determines how much money the customer is willing to pay for the product or services.
- Value streams – Is the entire flow of a product’s life cycle, from the origin of the raw materials through to the customer’s final cost of the product.
- Flow – One of the most significant keys to elimination of waste. If the chain stops moving forward, not matter what the reason, waste will be created. It is an organized and synchronized process.
- Pull – Do not make anything until the customer orders it. It requires great flexibility and very short cycle times of design, production, and delivery of the products and services.
- Perfection – The relentless pursuit of perfection is key attitude of an organization that is going to go lean and practice lean thinking.
The aim of lean thinking is to develop each person’s autonomy in problem solving by supporting them in their continuous improvement. It is taught to managers so that they help their direct reports to think lean and reduce waste by working more closely with their teams and across functional boundaries. At the senior level, lean thinking creates leaner enterprises because sales increase through customer satisfaction with higher quality products or services.