When I talk about my passion for Lean management, I am often asked whether Lean is not just about reducing headcount. I find this statement a bit frustrating, but I can also understand where this is coming from when I think about projects that were called “Lean”, but really only had the goal of reducing personnel.
What does Lean mean for me? Lean considers the entire value chain. It focuses on customer value and strives to avoid waste along this value chain. Another principle is to create a flow, which means that the products “flow” through the production without being held up in intermediate storage or for rework. The key factors in my view are the sensible use of available resources and the creation of true added value.
The Lean toolbox to eliminate waste is almost infinite, but I do have a few favorite choices:
⚒ Value stream mapping: this method visualizes the process flow and key performance indicators, thus facilitating the optimization of business processes. Based on this, processes can be improved, and non-value-adding activities can be identified and, if possible, eliminated.
⚒ Continuous Improvement Process: the implementation of Lean is not a one-time exercise, but the idea is to continuously work on the improvement of the processes to do it better and better each time. You could also call this a fundamental part of the Lean mind-set.
🤝Involving employees in the Lean process: this is not a tool as such. The experience of the employees, their ideas and suggestions for improvement are key for the further development of the processes. It is also more satisfying for employees to be able to actively shape the work processes in they work with.
Ultimately, the elimination of non-value-adding activities does not have to lead to employees being laid off, but rather to employees being able to focus on value-adding activities and thereby increasing the meaningfulness of their work.
To reward you for reading this far, here's a Limerick:
There once was a manager so lean
Who used the tools for his team
He saved time and money
And made it all funny
He made a success of his dream
... and if you need assistance with Lean, I will be happy to help.
Foto von Joanna Kosinska auf Unsplash