I took part in a workshop today which was focused on the principle of Lean Process Improvement. For those of you who have never come across the term before the Lean ideology focuses on improving customer value in processes while minimizing waste. There were some interesting bits discussed in the workshop, particularly how lean, while developed for manufacturing sectors, has also been applied to other industries, particulaly the service industry.
The principles of lean center around a 5-step thought process outlined here:
- Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
- Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
- Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
- As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
- As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.
If you’re interested in learning more about “Lean”, here are some resources you might find interesting:
- Lean Manufacturing – Wikipedia post where you can learn about lean history and ideas
- Lean Enterprise Institute – A hub for all things lean
- Lean for Dummies – I love the “for Dummies” books
- Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions – Haven’t read this .. but adding to my Wishlist