A 'lean' manual beneficial to every organization
Lean management started from five questions, which occur in a fixed order.
1. What does 'value' mean for each stakeholder?
'Value is what the customer wants to pay' is a common remark. But for lean management all stakeholders count: from shareholders pursuing profits, to employees who want a safe working environment, to local residents who benefit from a well integrated company. If you can get rid of issues without value – think of stocks (capital that does not pay off) – it provides substantial improvements.
2. Where in the process is value added?
Value stream mapping is a second important step. By identifying the whole process, you see where value begins and who makes it happen, but you also locate waste (for example, where do orders have to wait?).
3. How do you create a flow?
Thirdly, it is important to put the steps that add value after each other and eliminate all other steps or at least reduce and execute them in a parallel way, so that they do not interrupt the sequence of value-creating activities. Such a flow shortens the process considerably.
4. How do you tailor the pace of the process to that of the question?
Traditional practices (launch of an order and pushing it from workstation to workstation) lead to inventory accumulations that you avoid if you let the process be pulled by the market demand. An example of such a 'pull' production is a car assembly line on which a mix of bodies is finished according to the customer's wishes.
5. How to reach perfection?
Finally, it is crucial that each production manager is a gemba-manager: someone who is present on the floor. Great improvements dwell in 'hidden wastes' that you only notice by looking around.