• What Is Lean
  • Lean Transformation Model

What is Lean Thinking and Practice?

Lean is about creating the most value for the customer while minimizing resources, time, energy, and effort. A lean approach to work is about:
  • understanding what's really going on at the place where value is created, commonly known as the gemba
  • improving the processes by which products and services are created and delivered
  • developing and empowering people through problem solving and coaching
  • developing leaders and an effective management system
Lean thinking and practice helps organizations become both innovative and competitive, which in turn allows them to become sustainable. Today, lean has become a new, more effective approach to doing work, no matter what the work is, the sector, or the size of the organization. In a lean organization, problems are opportunities for meaningful learning rather than errors to be swept under the rug or quickly resolved. Managers act as coaches, helping others get comfortable identifying problems and practicing daily continuous improvement. Leadership means creating a management system to support a new kind of engagement with the real work at hand, the way the work is being done now (not the way you and your teams hope to be doing work sometime in the future). LGN's goal is to help individuals and organizations start making things better through lean thinking and practice today.

Many People Incorrectly Define Lean As....

  • Tools: 5S, Kaizen events, value stream maps, andon, visual management, metrics, dashboards, A3, etc.
  • Programs: efficiency, process improvement, performance management, MBO, cost reduction, 6Sigma, etc. done to value-creators by management, outsiders or internal expert staff.
  • Something that only applies to manufacturing or operations.
  • Training for certifications and belts.
  • Headcount reduction >>> "lean = mean".
  • Regimentation through standard work

What is LGN's definition of Lean Thinking & Practice?

Embracing the challenge of creating more value for each customer and prosperity for society by:
  • Showing respect by developing people to continuously improve the work through problem solving
  • Focusing on and continuously improving the work
  • Minimizing/eliminating waste: time, human effort, injuries, inventory, capital, space, defects, rework, etc.
  • Asking what type of management behaviors and management system is needed to improve and transform the organization.

To Improve (or Transform) an Organization Must Address

  • Purpose - What value for customers?
  • Process - How to continuously improve?
  • People - How to respect, engage and develop employees?
  • Aligning purpose, process, and people is the central task of management

What is Transformation?

  • Enterprise transformation is the process of an organization shifting its business model to a desired future state.
  • Lean transformation requires learning a new way of thinking and acting, characterized not by implementing a series of steps or solutions, but addressing key questions of purpose, process, and people.

By John Shook, CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute

Better understanding the nature of transformation is core to the mission of the Lean Global Network.

At the organization-wide level a transformation is a very big experiment indeed. Organizations must focus its transformation efforts at both the macro level, and at the very granular, micro level of the daily-hourly-immediate-work itself. Sharing this model with you, and helping others practice and develop it, enables us to work with you to narrow the gaps related to achieving your organizational purpose and solving problems.

Observing efforts in the improvement community over many years-often working with you side-by-side - we have learned that successful transformation calls for a situational approach that is based on innovating key dimensions of any organization through addressing a series of questions. These questions are fractal-meaning that the same questions apply whether working at the macro enterprise level or the level of individual responsibility as you dive progressively deeper into each dimension. But, while the transformation model that has emerged through years of experience is situational, the nature of the questions represents a clear point of view: if an organization fails to address each question, and with a sense of how each relates to the others, the transformation is headed for trouble.

Fundamentally, the process of successful lean transformation rests on applying PDCA cycles of experimentation (the art and craft of science) at every level, everywhere, all the time. Being situational means that every story is going to be specific and different (each situation has a different aim or purpose). Being grounded in a common set of principles yet situational in application provides rich opportunity for the development of truly profound wisdom. But, lean thinking and practice, and lean transformation, entail more than PDCA alone; the lean approach to transformation carries some specific value judgments as well.

By tackling each dimension through addressing questions, we avoid the common mistake of prescriptively giving solutions as is typical of process improvement and lean implementation approaches. Thus, we can have a dynamic approach to transformation in which each organization creates its own unique approach, one that helps them achieve their unique purpose through practical utilization of the deep wisdom embedded in the lean practices that have evolved over decades of rigorous PDCA.

Learning from the collective experience of the lean community we know that tackling the five dimensions through continually and thoroughly addressing these questions is both necessary and sufficient for a successful enterprise-wide transformation.

Lean Transformation Model Picture from Lean Global Network

Lean Transformation Model Picture from Lean Global Network