• What Is Lean
  • Lean Transformation Framework

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, Senior Advisor, Lean Enterprise Institute

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 framework that has emerged through years of experience is situational, the nature of the questions represent 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 will struggle to sustain its momentum. 

Questions of the Lean Transformation Framework

  1. What is the purpose of the change? What true north and value are we providing, or simply: what problem are we trying to solve?
  2. How are we improving the actual work?
  3. How are we building capability?
  4. What leadership behaviors and management systems are required to support this new way of working?
  5. What basic thinking, mindset, or assumptions comprise the existing culture, and are driving this transformation?
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. Lean thinking and practice also propose a specific point of view around each question. We believe that there are certain approaches to answering each of the 5 questions that will yield greater success in your lean journey.