The Principles of Lean

Have you heard of the principles of ‘lean’ in your workplace? What does it mean exactly? Lean came about as a result of manufacturing but has since been adopted in many workplaces and management systems.

The principles of lean encourage continuous improvement and focus on respect for all members of a team. The main five principles to improve efficiency in work practices include:

  1. Defining value
  2. Mapping out the value stream
  3. Creating flow
  4. Applying a pull system
  5. Pursuit of perfection

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  1. Value

To work out how to define customer value, first we need to define value. Value can be understood by what a customer is willing to pay for. It’s important to know what the real or perceived needs of the customer are. Sometimes a customer doesn’t even know what he wants. This is why techniques are employed such as surveys, demographics, interviews and web analytics to decipher what customers view as important and what their budget is.

  1. The Value Stream

The next principle of lean is identifying and mapping out the value stream. Taking the customer’s value as a starting point, all the activities that contribute towards that value are considered. Any activities that do not deliver to that value are considered waste. By reducing any unnecessary steps, you can ensure that the customer is getting exactly what they want and need whilst reducing the cost of production. Learn more about these principles with Scrum Master Training. Understanding lean principles is an important part of Scrum Master Training from Althris.

  1. Flow

Once you’ve identified and removed the waste, the next step is to ensure following actions flow smoothly without delay. This could include sharing out workloads, setting up cross-functional departments, multi-skill training and adopting fully adaptive approaches.

  1. Pull

One of the biggest areas of potential waste is in inventory. A pull-based approach seeks to reduce inventory and work in progress but ensure the right materials are available to enable a smooth flow of work. In a nutshell, it is a system that supports manufacturing goods at the time they are required, in the quantities that are required and just in time deliveries.

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  1. Pursue of Perfection

Waste has been reduced by following the previous four steps and the fifth step is the most crucial of them all. The main focus of lean is continuous improvement and this step encourages employees to strive towards perfection as an ingrained part of the organisation’s culture.

Now we understand the 5 principles of lean for creating a framework for efficiency and effective organisation. Lean principles allow managers to uncover any inefficient processes and deliver much better outcomes for their customers. Lean helps to foster improved flows in working practices and encourage a culture where continuous improvement is paramount.


Author: Kei Taylor

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