What is Lean Management?
Maximizing customer value and minimizing waste – this is the methodology of Lean Management. In simple words, Lean means building more value for customers with fewer resources. Earlier, Lean Management was considered a methodology only suitable for manufacturing services. However, modern times have proven it wrong by applying its principles in every organization and its processes.
What kind of business can apply this methodology?
All kinds of businesses from all industries and services are applying the knowledge of lean management in their possible ways. Although the process is not tagged under the same name as “lean.” Lean Management is a process every company or organization can own and give a new to the process as it is transforming from the old school methods of customer valuing to the new – lean thinking. When a company mentions that there is a transformation, it denotes how the organization converted its entire business conduction.
Lean methodology is now extensive in many organizations. But, the term “Lean” was coined two decades back by a research team that was headed by Jim Womack, at MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program. The characteristics of a lean organization clearly explained by Womack and Dan Jones in Lean Thinking gives any organization an idea on how to opt for the lean process and root out waste. Womack and Jones together formed a few principles that help in improving workplace efficiency.
Lean Management in Organization
If you are equipped with a Six Sigma Black Belt Course, you may consider introducing Lean management principles in your organization. However, before you do that, prepare the team and all departments about the overall change the organization is adapting. For this,
1. Clear goals: The management should be aware of the end goal; the results by implementing the methodology, explaining if Lean management is about optimization of workflow or is it a concept to increase organization profitability, and every concept should be communicated to the team. The organization if it sets its end goals clearly, then it will be able to map a successful to a sustainable future. They will also be able to help the team to be clear the obstacles during the process.
2. Establishing mindset: Once the organization is convinced about adopting a Lean mindset, it is much needed to integrate the same within the team too. By explaining the team about the process of lean management, the benefits reaped from it not only on an organizational level but on a personal level also. The team should understand that the lean process gives importance and value to the customers by eliminating waste and by cultivating shared leadership. In this approach, there is scope for more responsibilities and improvement for the team and the organization.
3. Small changes: It is a significant challenge to integrate this change in all the teams and departments at one time. For individuals to understand and connect with the process of lean management, the organization should start making small changes. For example, the organization should pick employees or team members from each department and collaborate them into one team – this group behaves as a change agent. After the task is accomplished, the individual return to their original teams to spread the knowledge, understanding, and advantages of the process.
When is the right time to introduce Lean Principles in the organization?
Once the team is ready and prepared to take up the change as part of its daily process, it is time to introduce the five principles of Lean that are defined clearly in the book “The Machine That Changed the World.”
1. Identifying value: After the team is prepared for the change, the Lean Manager’s responsibility is to identify the value of the team’s work, and differentiate between value-adding activities and waste activities. Value is defined as everything that your customer is paying you for. In this scenario; organization/firm is your customer, your services as a team member or as a team should add value for the growth of the organization.
2. Map value stream: The following step to identification of value that the team produces, is to visualize the path to the customer. As per Lean Management foundations, mapping of the value stream of a team is visualized by dividing a task into:
● In progress
Each task should be well defined with these steps at each stage and finally map the entire workflow accordingly.
3. Create flow: Creating flow and clearing the bottlenecks is a crucial concept of Lean management. As a lean manager, one must be able to analyze the progress of the tasks and the workflow. Being watchful of the entire process, understanding the reason for the delay, and alleviating them will result in inefficiency. Another way to alleviate blockages is to limit the amount of work assigned to the teams.
4. Establish pull: When an organization follows the pull system, it creates workflow only when a previous task is completed, and the team can spare. The goal should be to give quality and value work to the customers. Generally, many organizations follow the push system, wherein the task is created and then assigned to the developer or the manager, which is further allocated to the respective teams. Whereas, in the Pull system, the tasks are queued. Based on the team member’s availability, the task is picked and resolved. The pull system results in efficient results and better value deliverables to the customers.
Managements, when following the pull system, have to consider two key metrics for each task:
● Cycle time: Cycle time is the time for the tasks assigned to the team and their working toward its completion.
● Throughout: Throughout is the completion of the number of tasks within a defined timeframe.
5. Seek constant improvement: The concept of continuous improvement is closely related to the principle of Seek continual improvement. This is an integral part of Lean management because; the end goal is to render value for your customer, and this can be achieved through a continuous process of improvement at every stage and by removing waste or unnecessary activities.
Any organization implementing Lean Management requires a good understanding of its theory and the core principles it is laid on. The organization should ensure that each member of the team is informed about the Principles of Lean Management, comprehend its benefits, and apply in the daily process.