The biggest goal of Lean is to eliminate waste. What was once a concept exclusive to manufacturing has now transcended to other industries, including healthcare and hospitality. But in order to enjoy the competitive advantage that Lean provides, you must be familiar with its principles.
Here are five of the most important Lean Principles an organization cannot do without.
In Lean, the first thing you must identify is value. Value is basically the need that the end product will fulfill for the end-user – what they are paying to get. You can use various tools and methods to determine value, from web analytics to surveys.
2. Value Stream Mapping
After the value is identified, you need to map the value stream. This means you need to look at all the activities in your value chain and identify the ones that add value and those that don’t. Anything that doesn’t add is considered waste and should be eliminated.
With the value stream mapped, the next step is to create flow. This means value should flow through the value chain to the end user smoothly. This includes identifying and eliminating any bottlenecks that cause interruptions and delays until you ensure value is flowing smoothly.
With value flowing uninterrupted to the customer, you need to create a pull-based system to prevent Inventory waste. Inventory waste can be costly and needs to be eliminated. Through the pull-based system, customers “pull” products from you when they need them, allowing for “just in time” manufacturing and delivery.
To perfect Lean, steps 1-4 needed to be repeated on a continuous basis. This is an important concept in Lean known as continuous improvement and should be part of the organizational culture. It ensures that the gains from the previous steps stick and that the previous wastes and/or new ones don’t rear their ugly head.