What is a Lean system?
A Lean system uses a Lean approach to identify and eliminate waste. They systematically discover and act upon opportunities to improve. These are two of the fundamental concepts of Lean: Eliminate anything that does not add value to the customer and work systematically and continuously to create more value for the customer.
What is Lean Thinking?
Lean is differentiated from other business methodologies in that it doesn’t prescribe a strict, rigid set of rules, tools, processes, or practices. Although transforming into a Lean system involves a great deal of effort, its lightweight, flexible nature makes it easy to scale than more structured, regimented methodologies.
Practising Lean simply involves relying upon the principles of Lean thinking to make smarter, more informed decisions. We define Lean thinking as the application of the 7 principles below, each of which work to create a healthier, more sustainable, more productive organisational system.
Optimise the whole organisation
Visualise, optimise, and manage the entire organisational value stream as one value-generating system. Make decisions that optimise the entire organisation’s ability to deliver value to the customer, not just one team or department.
A Lean system is a learning system; it grows and develops through analysing the results of small, incremental experiments. To retain the insight and knowledge gained from constant experimentation, Lean systems must provide the infrastructure necessary to properly document and retain value learnings.
Lean systems use this definition of waste: If your customer wouldn’t pay for it, it’s waste. Waste can be anything from too much work in process, to time spent manually completing a task that could be automated. Lean thinkers are relentless about eliminating any process, activity, or practise that does not result in more value for the customer.
Build quality in
Lean organizations set themselves up for sustainable growth by building quality into processes and documentation. They automate and standardise any tedious, repeatable process or any process prone to human error, which allows them to error-proof significant portions of their value streams.
In Lean, flow refers to how work moves through your organisational system. Good flow describes a Lean system with a steady, consistent flow of value delivery, while bad flow describes a system with unpredictable delivery and unsustainable habits. In a Lean system, organisations and the teams within them define, visualise, and refine their processes to optimise for a consistent flow of value. They actively manage flow by limiting work in process, or WIP.
This Lean principle says that Lean systems should function as just-in-time systems, waiting until the last responsible moment to make decisions and deliver work. This is based on the idea that the longer we wait, the greater the chance that our decisions will be well-informed, based on data that reflects the reality of the market.
At its core, all successful Lean systems are rooted in one thing: Respect for people. Lean systems are designed to maximise customer value while minimising waste, out of respect for the customer.
In terms of employees, Lean systems encourage environments that allow everyone to do their best work. In Lean systems, team members continuously strive to optimise processes to allow everyone to deliver the most value they can provide.
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