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What is Lean Management? Definition, advantages, and concepts

You have probably heard of the concept of lean management or M&A advisory and its growing popularity in the industry. But don’t worry if it doesn’t. In the following paragraphs, you will familiarize yourself with the Lean methodology.

In fact, it’s no surprise that lean management is now prevalent in every industry. Thanks to its fundamental values ​​and its positive impact on the overall performance of companies, the Lean concept appears to be an essential tool for continuous improvement.

What is Lean Management, and how did it start?

Before starting with the basic principles of Lean, you should understand that the Lean approach is about continuously improving work processes, objectives, and people.

Instead of having full control of work processes and keeping the limelight, lean management encourages shared responsibility and shared leadership.

This is why the two main pillars of the Lean methodology are:

Respect for people

The amelioration keeps going

After all, a good idea or initiative can start at any level of the hierarchy, and Lean trusts the people doing the work to say how it should be done.

Currently, lean strategy is a widely adopted concept in various industries. However, it originated from the “Toyotism” production system, which was created about 70 years ago to improve production time.

The birth of Lean management

In the late 1940s, when Toyota laid the groundwork for lean manufacturing, its goal was to reduce processes that did not add value to the product.

In doing so, they managed to achieve significant improvements in productivity, efficiency, cycle time and profitability.

Thanks to this noticeable impact, Lean thinking has spread across many industries and evolved into 5 basic principles of Lean management as outlined by the Lean Management Institute.

The Lean Startup (What is Lean in business?)

Eric Ries, engineer, and serial entrepreneur has developed a methodology based on Lean principles to help startups succeed. In 2011, he collected his ideas in a book called “The Lean Startup”. The concept consists of 5 basic principles that aim to help startups be more flexible and responsive to change.

From a business perspective, the blueprint for Lean is to shorten product development cycles and quickly find out if a given business concept is viable. This methodology is also used by government structures, marketing professionals, etc.

As you can see, Lean management was not created in an instant. On the contrary, it evolves gradually, thanks to many observations and people’s desire for continuous improvement.

So, let’s come to the basic principles of Lean management.

Examples of lean management

Lean management principles can be used as a universal management tool to improve overall business performance.

Here are some examples of specific business and production processes that are based on the concept of lean management:

The most useful lean management tools

Lean management tools are often represented as solutions for learning and experimentation. The staff adopts them and collaborates in a process of continuous improvement.

There are a multitude of tools, but here are a few examples:

The 5S strategy

The term 5S is often associated with lean management because it is a fundamental element of lean production. Implementing 5S in a workplace makes it easier for people to find their way around, find what they need, and keep things organized. Without the 5S system, which keeps order and easily identifies problems, other Lean initiatives are often less successful. In many cases, 5S is what makes the rest of Lean possible.

Kaizen

Kaizen is a lean management tool that, when used correctly, drives continuous improvement in quality, technology, processes, productivity, corporate culture, and safety. Created in Japan after World War II, Kaizen was used to help with post-war reconstruction.

Kaizen leverages the knowledge and ingenuity of every employee, from senior management to the cleaning team. As a result, suggestions for improvement come from all areas of the business: production, procurement, management, logistics, finance, etc. In most cases, individual improvements do not lead to major changes on their own; on the contrary, a continuous stream of small changes leads to major improvements in productivity, safety, and efficiency, while reducing waste.

A more modern use of Kaizen is to plan events, commonly referred to as “Kaizen events”. Kaizen events are formal activities designed to create rapid change in the workplace. Used in support of the Kaizen process, these events target specific areas that need improvement. This approach is particularly useful for getting people on board with the Kaizen process because it results in dramatic changes in a short time.

Kanban

Kanban is a visual production system in which a supply of parts is supplied to the production line as needed, increasing efficiency. This lean manufacturing tool helps ensure workers have what they need, where they need it, when they need it.

Using Kanban, employers can more easily manage inventory and reduce unnecessary inventory by instead focusing on items that need to be stocked. In turn, facilities can react to real needs, rather than making assumptions to anticipate the future, reducing waste, and improving efficiency.

Value Stream Mapping

Stream Mapping (or VSM) is a lean visual tool that helps organizations optimize manufacturing and production.

As its name suggests, the VSM provides a visual aid or map that helps participants understand current issues by displaying the interaction between all process elements highlighting secondary elements (scheduling, workflow of the service, material management, etc.)

visually representing the flow of information and materials throughout the process.

By visually representing the relationships between all the elements of a process, problems, and potential losses (loss of time, resources, or materials) are easier to identify. The potential solutions become clear.

Focus PDCA

Focus PDCA is an organized and logical approach to improving business processes. It is a variation of the original Plan-Do-Check-Act process, which includes steps that its predecessor omitted. The strength of this streamlining tool lies in the clarity and simplicity of its steps.

The purpose of FOCUS PDCA is to provide a structure that guides the process of problem-solving and process improvement. This approach establishes a comprehensive analysis, response, action plan, and feedback loop to ensure success.

How can graphic products contribute to Lean Manufacturing?

Proper labeling and signage play an important role in the implementation of any lean production tool. Whether you need large charts for value stream mapping or barcodes to launch Kanban. Become a lean startup using floor marking and the 5S strategy. Find out how PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tapes can improve safety and efficiency in warehouses of all sizes.

Benefits of Lean Management

The growing popularity of Lean principles comes from the fact that they focus on improving every aspect of a work process and involve all levels of the hierarchy to improve business management.

There are a few major benefits that managers can benefit from.

Concentration. By applying the Lean methodology, you will be able to reduce wasteful activities.

Improved productivity and efficiency.

Smarter processes (pulled system). By establishing a pull system, you will be able to supply work only if there is real demand. This brings us to the next point.

Better use of resources. When your production is based on actual demand, you can only use the necessary resources.

Therefore, your business (team) will be much more flexible and able to respond to consumer demands much faster. Ultimately, the principles of lean management from an M&A advisor will allow you to create a stable production system (lean system) with a greater chance of improving overall performance.

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