What is Lean?A set of principles and practices that help a company or a team create more customer value, faster, with the same resource.
Savvy startups are all reading Eric Reis' 'The Lean Startup' and using the practices he discusses to build and launch their product to real users quickly. And then to measure their customers' response to the product and learn about how to develop it further to make it more successful.
Moving through this cycle as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so you learn what your customers want and how best to respond, is what gives you competitive advantage. And to move through the cycle quickly, you need to be lean.
Principles of LeanThe five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of lean techniques is easy to remember, but not always easy to achieve:
- Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
- Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
- Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
- As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
- As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps
are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again
and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect
value is created with no waste.
Specific strategies to help leadership transform a management system to a lean management system are:
- Every value stream should have a designated person responsible for identifying and overseeing its entire flow of value and for coordinating its continuous improvement. These improvements should be aligned both with the needs of the patient as well as those of the business. This does not mean that those who work in the value stream have two bosses. Top leadership must assure that both value stream leaders and functional leaders coordinate to make sure that all communication to those engaged in the value stream is both direct and unambiguous.
- A system of simple daily metrics is typically in place to remind and inspire those that do the regular work of what constitutes value to the customer. Managers should give regular attention to these metrics, using both liberal praise and focused questioning to those who provide the information. This routine sharing of status and results should ultimately include everyone who contributes to the value stream. It should never be a negative event (i.e., no “shooting the messenger” allowed). Top leadership must insist on and support this critical daily activity.
- Last but not least, unanswered questions or performance gaps identified through daily activity must lead to improvement experiments. These improvement efforts should use a standard, systematic problem solving approach (like the A3 problem solving format) and utilize the full toolbox of other Lean tools to improve the delivery of value. Again, top leadership must make sure that managers have both
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
OverviewThe Sino-Japanese word "kaizen" simply means "good change", with no inherent meaning of either "continuous" or "philosophy" in Japanese dictionaries or in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word "improvement". However, given the common practice in Japan of labeling industrial or business improvement techniques with the word "kaizen" (for lack of a specific Japanese word meaning "continuous improvement" or "philosophy of improvement"), especially in the case of oft-emulated practices spearheaded by Toyota, the word Kaizen in English is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement, or even taken to mean a "Japanese philosophy" thereof. The discussion below focuses on such interpretations of the word, as frequently used in the context of modern management discussions.
Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work ("muri"), and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. In all, the process suggests a humanized approach to workers and to increasing productivity: "The idea is to nurture the company's human resources as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities." Successful implementation requires "the participation of workers in the improvement." People at all levels of an organization participate in kaizen, from the CEO down to janitorial staff, as well as external stakeholders when applicable. The format for kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor's key role. Kaizen on a broad, cross-departmental scale in companies, generates total quality management, and frees human efforts through improving productivity using machines and computing power.
While kaizen (at Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement. This philosophy differs from the "command and control" improvement programs of the mid-twentieth century. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.
In modern usage, it is designed to address a particular issue over the course of a week and is referred to as a "kaizen blitz" or "kaizen event"
A person who makes markable contribution in the successful implementation of kaizen during kaizen events is awarded the title of "Zenkai".
. These are limited in scope, and issues that arise from them are typically used in later blitzes.[citation needed