Lean is about doing more with less. Lean aims to create precise customer value by delivering quality goods and services with less resources, time, human effort, space and capital. Lean achieves this objective by focusing on what creates value for the customer and eliminating activities that do not create value. The 5 key Lean principles are as follows:
The 5 Key Lean Principles
Value – Specify value from the standpoint of the customer
Value stream – Identify all the steps in the value stream, and eliminate any step that does not create value
Flow – Make the remaining value-creating steps occur in a tight and integrated sequence so the product or service will flow smoothly toward the customer.
Pull – As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
Pursue perfection – As these steps lead to greater transparency, enabling further elimination of waste, pursue perfection through continuous improvement.
(Reference: Lean Thinking, James Womack and Daniel Jones, 1996)
Errors, bottlenecks, inefficient process flow, lack of information, duplication of effort and non value added process steps, all impede flow in the value chain of an organisation. Lean uses a variety of tools focusing on the elimination or reduction of these process issues. These tools target improvements in quality, process reliability, workplace organisation, process set-up time and streamlining work flows.
Lean is about creating more value for customers by eliminating activities that are considered waste. Any activity or process that consumes resources, adds cost or time without creating value becomes the target for elimination. One of the important aspects of Lean is the focus on system-level improvements versus point improvements. It is the system-level work that can dramatically improve a company’s bottom line results. This knowledge, combined with the understanding of how to remove waste properly, is critical for any successful Lean implementation.