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Introduction to Lean

A super simple explanation

This article is about Lean Thinking, why it’s important for your organisation and how you can get started with it.

First of all let me say that lean thinking applies to every business, no matter what the industry. It is applied as a business strategy which creates a culture of positive and continuous improvement, resulting in employees who feel motivated and empowered in the workplace. It can reduce lead-times and operational costs in your business and enhance the quality of your products and services. As a result you’ll delight your customers by delivering higher-value products and services.

I want to highlight that this is a cultural change for an organisation, meaning that every member of the company must become driven and motivated to continuously find new and better ways of working. That includes the owner of the business all the way down to the shop floor staff.

One of the main ways lean achieve efficiencies is through the elimination of waste in our processes. An example of this is waiting for someone else to finish their job before you can start yours, or mistakes such as a form being filled out incorrectly. Using lean thinking techniques we examine the causes of these wastes and problem-solve to find better ways of working to increase our productivity.

So to summarise, lean thinking is a business strategy based on continuous improvement which helps us do things faster, better and cheaper, by eliminating wasteful activities.

Where do we start?

So where do we start? Well, everything starts with people. We need to enhance the capabilities of everyone in your organisation by first teaching them how to see waste and solve problems. In fact a core value of lean thinking is “respect for people” and if you think about it, asking someone to perform wasteful activities is not showing respect.

In conjunction with the people aspect we need to build a solid foundation for this new continuous improvement culture, which is mainly achieved through clearly documented processes and procedures. This gives us a stable starting point so that we can begin to make small measurable improvements.

Putting it all together

First step. Discuss Lean Thinking with your team, explain the benefits it can bring to their roles, tell them what inspires you about lean so they know you are fully committed too.

Second step. Once you have the team on-board pick one process to improve and let the team decide what that is. If it’s not already documented then work together as a team to map the process.

Third step. Analyse the waste in the process, look at processing times for each step and pick one small area to improve.

That is how it all begins, one small improvement, then another and another. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to fix an entire process, keep it small and improve gradually.

We hope that helps you start your lean journey and if at any point you need help or support please contact us and we’ll be happy to give you any advice we can.

It’s been great sharing this short introduction with you and we’ll continue to improve the free resources available on our website, so do check back with us regularly.

How we can help you

We’re experienced at delivering lean training in person and online which can accelerate your efforts to roll out lean. If you do need help just click the contact button below to get in touch.

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