A lean thinking organization understands customer value and focuses all its processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide absolute value to the customer. It encourages the practice of continuous improvement and is based on the fundamental idea of respect for people.
This is accomplished through the perfection of a creation process that has zero waste and absolute value to the customer. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate assets and departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through every process. Eliminating waste along entire value streams creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far less costs and with much fewer defects. Organizations are able to respond to changing customer needs with high variety, quality, low cost, and with fast throughput times.
There are five principles that are considered the key elements for improving efficiencies in process:
Value Defined – Comes from a deep understanding of customer needs. This determines what price a customer will pay for the goods or services.
Value Stream Mapped – By using customer value as a reference point, you can then identify all the activities that contribute. Any action that doesn’t contribute is considered waste.
Flow Created – Taking all actions to ensure that the flow of the processes run smoothly without interruptions or delays.
Pull Established – A pull-based system allows for Just-in-time (JIT) delivery where products or services are created at the time that they are needed and in just the quantities needed.
Perfection Pursued – This step is the most crucial of the entire process. Lean thinking and continuous process improvement must be ingrained in the organizational culture. Every person should be focused on perfection while delivering products or services which are solely based on the customer needs.
The five lean principles are the cornerstone of an efficient and effective organization. Lean thinking pushes organizations to discover inefficiencies and deliver absolute value to the customer.