You’ve most likely heard of Lean management but there’s a chance you may not realise how relevant it is to all kinds of businesses. Created by Toyota back in the 1940s, the purpose of this system is to minimise or remove processes that offer no value to the end product. This could be barriers within your communication hierarchy, materials wasted due to an inefficient system, uneconomical time management, or anything else that’s superfluous to the outcome.
When you combine a Lean management mentality with visual management products, you can overcome longstanding obstacles and reach new heights of efficiency. Below are the five stages of Lean management and how they will benefit your business.
Every business is dedicated to solving the problems of its customers. Whether this is through products or services, the mission is to offer clear value that’s directly linked to the user’s precise needs and goals. By identifying the value of your offering before anything else, you can then shape it around efficiency and performance.
For your products and services to be delivered, they must first go through multiple stages and actions. This could be the manufacturing of a physical product or the fine-tuning and personalising of a service – either way, there will be many people and processes involved to achieve it.
Value stream mapping means analysing each stage of delivery and uncovering any parts that don’t add value. Sometimes this could be an entire process that was once required but is now a remnant from an older system, but usually it will be a single element of a necessary process that can be minimised or removed entirely.
Once mapped, you can clearly see who has accountability over specific processes, which in turn allows you to recognise and eliminate steps that don’t bring value.
You’ve now confirmed the true value of your product or service and have made its creation more efficient. Next up, you need to design a system that will enable its smooth delivery both now and in the future.
This can be a difficult stage, as it’s a case of locating very subtle operational obstacles and hindrances that teams may assume are unavoidable. By breaking up processes into their individual steps, locating and removing bottlenecks, and training staff to adopt a Lean methodology, you can optimise your company’s wider workflow.
Dependable workflow is all about efficiency, in that your employees can achieve more in less time, with less effort, and produce less waste in the process. Once this is established, it’s time to create a pull system.
The basic principle of a pull system is based on demand. If your customers don’t currently require a certain product or service, you should focus on others that they do require. Investing time, resources and cash into areas that aren’t needed at the moment is wasteful, so you should remain vigilant and amend output in line with what the customer actually wants.
Even when all of the above are ticked off your list, there’s still more to be done. It’s now time to empower your workforce through a culture of continuous improvement, as this will guarantee that your company remains proactive, responsive and innovative.
Continuous improvement is the process of perpetually monitoring efficiency, productivity and output in order to identifying problems as soon as they arise. This brings with it multiple commercial advantages, which you can read about in our blog post The Power of Continuous Improvement.
When a business adopts and maintains a Lean management system, it achieves the following on a long-term basis:
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