Lean is a customer-centric methodology used to continuously improve any process through the elimination of waste in everything you do; it is based on the ideas of “Continuous Incremental Improvement” and “Respect for People.”

Focus on the fundamentals

The basic principles of Lean are

  • Focus on effectively delivering value to your Customer

  • Respect and engage the people

  • Improve the Value Stream by eliminating all types of waste

  • Maintain Flow

  • Pull Through the System

  • Strive for Perfection

Your customer tells you what they value

You customer defines value or value-added with the following three conditions:

  1. It must transform the product or service.

  2. The customer must be willing to “pay” for it.

  3. It must be done correctly the first time.

If you don’t meet all three of these criteria, then you have non-value-added activities or waste.

What’s “waste” anyway?

Waste comes in three main forms:

  • Mura or waste due to variation

  • Muri or waste due to overburdening or stressing the people, equipment or system

  • Muda also known as the “seven forms of waste”

The following are the wastes most commonly associated with Lean:

  • Transportation: Is there unnecessary (non-value-added) movement of parts, materials, or information between processes?

  • Waiting: Are people or parts, systems or facilities idle — waiting for a work cycle to be completed?

  • Overproduction: Are you producing sooner, faster, or in greater quantities than the customer is demanding?

  • Defects: Does the process result in anything that the customer would deem unacceptable?

  • Inventory: Do you have any raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP), or finished goods that are not having value added to them?

  • Movement: How much do you move materials, people, equipment, and goods within a processing step?

  • Extra Processing: How much extra work is performed beyond the standard required by the customer?

Sometimes you will also hear “the disengagement of people" identified as a form of muda.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Natalie J. Sayer has more than 25 years of international experience as an implementer, facilitator, and consultant in continuous improvement methods. Bruce Williams is Vice President of Pegasystems, the world leader in business process management. He is a leading speaker and presenter on business and technology trends and is coauthor of Six Sigma Workbook For Dummies, Process Intelligence For Dummies, BPM Basics For Dummies, and the Intelligent Guide to Enterprise BPM.

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