What is Lean?

A definition of Lean

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Lean is a management philosophy, derived from the Toyota Production System, fostering a culture of continuous improvement, maximizing value and minimizing waste by focusing on a flow of high value-added activities or processes.

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Lean Explained

The key concept of Lean is the elimination ‘waste’. Waste can be defined as anything that doesn’t add value to the customer. An activity or process is only ‘value-added’ when 3 conditions are met: the activity must transform the product or service, the customer must be willing to pay for it, and it must be done correctly the first time.

Lean is a culture of teamwork and continuous improvement, teaching people to identify and eliminate waste. This creates a more efficient process, in turn, adding value.

An important aspect of Lean is ‘respect for people’. This is a part of Lean Leadership. Lean leaders motivate and coach people, helping them grow professionally and personally, and involve them in the improvement of the business. A good example of this is Kaizen, a practice which concentrates on continuous improvement.

Lean is also sometimes seen as a set of tools or methods such as Value Stream Mapping, the 5 S’s and the Ishikawa Diagram.

Learn how the Lean methodology can help you improve your organization and reduce waste.