Principles of Lean Management Philosophy
In their groundbreaking book Lean Thinking (1996), authors and Lean philosophy developers James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones defined five principles that characterize a Lean enterprise:
1. “Value” as specified by the final customer.
2. “Value flow” used to identify steps required to design, order and deliver a particular product, by eliminating the steps that do not create value.
3. “Flow” as a progressive realization of tasks along the stream of values, so the product reaches the end customer without interruption or reflux.
4. “Pull” as the initiating element of a cascade production system: nothing is produced by the upstream supplier until the downstream customer signals a need.
5. “Perfection” to include the complete elimination of waste, so that all activities in the value flow create value; perfection is pursued through continuous improvement.
The fundamental concept of Lean philosophy is to eliminate waste and to define value from the perspective of the customer. Turning to waste first, the Toyota Production System has defined seven types of waste:
• Defective products
Specialists in the field of Lean philosophy often add an eighth form of waste, potentially the most important: waste of employee intelligence, skills, and talent.
Lean’s collection of instruments and concepts is pervasive and each of them can improve manufacturing operations. As more tools are used, benefits coalesce and become more complex. Inevitably, all Lean concepts interact with and reinforce each other.
Lean Management Culture
Perhaps the most important idea to understand is Lean Management philosophy is not a project or just a set of tools: it is a change of culture and strategy. Among the extensive list of Lean instruments are:
• Bottleneck Analysis
• Continuous Flow
• Gemba (“The Real Place”)
• Heijunka (Level Scheduling)
• Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment)
• Jidoka (Autonomation)
• Just-In-Time (Continuous Improvement)
• Kanban (Pull System)
• Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)• Muda (Waste)
• Total Equipment Effectiveness
• PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
• Poka Yoke (Error Proofing)
• Root Cause Analysis
• Single-Minute Exchange of Dies
• Six Big Losses
• SMART Goals
• Standardised Work
• Takt Time
• Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
• Value Stream Mapping
• Visual Factory
Although each instrument has extraordinary benefits, achieving the perfection envisaged is not easy. Perfection CAN be achieved when a critical attitude in internal processes is maintained. The implementation of permanent improvement methods must dominate the question: As the final consumer, am I willing to pay for this service/product?
A continuous improvement method involves all employees of a company and must be promoted first and foremost by top management. Once perfection is achieved, improvement must be sustained and the results must be maintained, improved, always perfect.
Lean performance is measured by prioritizing projects based on the impact on profitability and on-site improvements. The ultimate goal is to guide steps in the Lean process.
A final note regarding obstacles: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
Lean Consulting for Your Organisation
QICE specializes in Lean consulting for New Zealand manufacturers and product developers. Trust QICE for:
• Lean philosophy expertise
• Knowledge leadership for QMS support
• Leading experience in the field
• 24/7 availability
• Defined, affordable costs
Contact us to discuss how QICE can add value and help your organization engineer its most efficient path to greatness.