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Lean Management, also known as Lean Enterprise and Lean Manufacturing, is a management philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). The objective of Lean Thinking is to eliminate everything that does not add value from the customer's eyes.

Lean Management is a management philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). This management philosophy was coined "Lean" only in the 1990s. The objective of Lean Thinking is to eliminate everything that does not add value (i.e. "waste") from the customer's perspective.

The general approach to Lean is learn-by-doing and to foster a culture of continuous improvement. In a Lean organization, we develop a value stream for each service family, make the product or service flow, and then continuously improve our process as we manage towards perfection. To achieve this goal of managing to perfection, there is a vast range of Lean techniques and tools available, which have been established and tested with numerous case studies. Examples of Lean frameworks include Value Stream Mapping (VSM), 5S, Kanban, Kaizen, Poka Yoke, Gemba Walk, Hoshin Kanri, Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), Root Cause Analysis (RCA), Heijunka, etc.

The Lean Enterprise system is built on 2 primary pillars:

There are numerous business and organizational benefits to adopting a Lean organization. Some of these benefits include improve customer satisfaction (both internal and external), improve qualify of products or services, improved employee productivity, reduced paperwork, reduced employee stress, and more engaged employees.

Value vs. Waste

A couple key concepts in Lean Thinking are that of "value" and "waste." Activities can be categorized into those that add value and those that don't. Value-added activities increase the form or function of the product or service. They are activities the client or customer is willing to pay for.

On the other hand, non-value activities do not add form or function or are not necessary. They do not benefit the client or customer. They are things that are not necessary to run the department. These activities, in Lean terms, are called waste.



This 32-page presentation explains the Lean Management philosophy, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). Learn to eliminate everything that does not add value in the customer's eyes. Download a FREE PowerPoint on Lean Management.

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The goal of Lean is to eliminate this waste. In fact, Lean Management can be defined as a systemic method for the elimination of waste within a business process.

Waste can be categorized into 8 types:

  1. Over-production. Producing more than what the customer needs. Examples include Creating reports that no one needs or making extra copies, exceeding scope of agreement, purchasing items before they areneeded (e.g. items on sale), etc.
  1. Waiting. Employees waiting for another process or a machine/tool. Examples include waiting to be served, waiting for instructions/approvals/information, equipment/System downtime, etc.
  1. Rework. Reprocessing or correcting work. Examples include data entry errors, poor process controls, incorrect schedules and information, etc.
  1. Transportation. Moving product from one place to another. Examples include poor workplace organization, insufficient use of tele-/video-conferencing, double or triple handling, etc.
  1. Inventory. Building and storing extra services/products the customer has not ordered. Examples include e-mails waiting to be read, business documents waiting to be worked on, too many office supplies, etc.
  1. Motion. Extra physical/mental motion that doesn't add value. Examples include searching for information on internet/computer, handling paperwork, unnecessary motion due to poor ergonomics or office layout, etc.
  1. Over-processing. Adding excess value when the customer does not require it. Examples include repeated manual entry of data, excessive documentation, multiple formats for the same information, etc.
  1. Intellect. Not using employees full intellectual contribution. Examples include not engaging or listening to employees in finding solutions, lack of best practice sharing, mismatched work functions with skill sets, etc.

What Lean Management Is Not

These are concepts that Lean absolutely does not represent:

To better understand how Lean differs from conventional management philosophy, let's look at several examples comparing these schools of thought.

  • Large batches
  • Small batches
  • Low unit costs
  • Total system cost
  • Work at full capacity
  • Work at necessary capacity
  • Tight schedules
  • Flexible schedules
  • High inventories
  • Low inventories
  • High level of specialization
  • Cross-training
  • Long cycle times
  • Short cycle times
  • Lean Management Model

    The Lean Management Model aligns all 5 pillars of Lean under one "Lean" umbrella:

    This article provides a very rudimentary introduction to Lean Management. To develop a more in depth understanding, we suggest downloading a free copy of the 32-slide Introduction to Lean Management presentation and consulting the business training guides below.

    Source: Lean Thinking 101, Eliminate Waste, Create Value, Operational Excellence Consulting [source material]


    Flevy's document contributors are Subject Matter Experts in their respective industries. Below, we have showcased our authors that specialize in Lean Management and Lean Six Sigma. Each of these authors and their respective consulting firms have developed training guides on Lean Six Sigma.

    Allan Ung, founder of Singapore-based Operational Excellence Consulting, has over 25 years of experience playing global and regional roles leading Lean, Six Sigma, and TQM initiatives in global organizations such as IBM, Microsoft, Underwriters Laboratories, and Infineon Technologies.

    His firm provides corporate learning programs and management advisory services to assist clients to achieve breakthrough in business performance and effectiveness. Operational Excellence Consulting works with government bodies, multinational corporations, and small and medium-sized enterprises of a wide spectrum of industries. Some of their valued clients include Analog Devices, Borouge, Micron Technologies, B|Braun Medical Instruments, Panasonic, NEC, NileDutch, CLS Communication, Elsevier, Wow Education, Ministry of Social & Family Development, Temasek Polytechnic, Defence Science & Technology Agency, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, etc.

    » View Allan's Operational Excellence training guides here

    Frank Adler, co-founder of US-based Operational Excellence Consulting, has over 20 years of international executive leadership experience in General Management, multi-site Operations & Supply Chain Management, Quality & Customer Support Management, and Operational Excellence, Lean Management & Six Sigma.

    Frank is a certified and experienced Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, with a proven track record of implementing these methods, concepts and tools in various organizations and industries. He holds a in Mathematics and Physics from the Freie University of Berlin (Germany) and a in Applied Mathematics and Industrial Economics from the Helsinki University of Technology (Finland).

    His firm provides assessments, training solutions, kaizen event facilitation, and implementation support to organizations that are committed to achieve superior performance through Operational Excellence.

    » View Frank's Operational Excellence training guides here

    Vishnu Rayapeddi, founder of Productivity Solutions, is a management executive with over 26 years of experience in End-to-end Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Operations Management, Strategic Planning, Business/Operational Excellence, and Process Re-engineering/Improvement.

    Vishnu is a pioneer in Lean Management, combining the power of Lean Thinking, TOC, Six Sigma, TQM, TWI, Balanced Scorecard, cGMP, and other best-class methodologies like DMAIC, Value Stream Mapping, Root Cause Analysis, 5S, Quick Changeovers, Quality and Reliability, TPM, Visual Management, Standard Work, Pull, JIT, and Kanban.

    Vishnu has worked in Pharma Manufacturing and FMCG Supply Chain environments for over 21 years with some of the most reputed organisations in New Zealand and India, including Unichem Laboratories, Aristo Pharmaceuticals, Intas Pharmaceuticals, Standard Medical & Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Fonterra, George Weston Foods (part of AB Foods) and others. In the past 6 years, Vishnu has been providing consulting, training, coaching and mentoring services in the Operational Excellence arena.

    » View Vishnu's Operational Excellence training guides here

    Michael Carter, founder of 6ixSigma, is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt with experience in Statistical Analysis, Predictive Modeling, Root Cause Analysis, Design of Experiments, Sampling, Regression, Data and Text mining.

    His firm has assisted with Lean Six Sigma training and implementation in Australia, Singapore, Germany, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico, India, Hong Kong, United States, Canada, and counting.

    Michael is also a Director in KPMG's Advisory Services practice, where leads the internal process improvement deployment and also leads the data analytics initiative, leveraging analytics to identify and improve operational results and assist clients with their operational needs.

    » View Michael's Operational Excellence training guides here


    Flevy is the leading online provider of business frameworks, methodologies, and training guides. These documents are of the same caliber produced by top tier consulting firms, like McKinsey, Bain, and Deloitte. Most documents were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. The training guides selected below have all been developed by management consulting firms specializing in Lean Management and Lean Six Sigma. The select training guides below have all been developed by the subject matter experts showcased above.

    The office, by any name, is a paperwork factory. To become a Lean enterprise, office activities must fully support shop-floor manufacturing operations to eliminate waste. The [read more]

    In this training presentation, you will be able to teach employees on the structured Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach to problem solving. Many world class companies such [read more]

    Visual management is an integral part of a Lean management system. Visual management uses displays, metrics and controls to help establish and maintain continuous flow, and giving [read more]

    The 8D Problem Solving Process has become a standard in many industries as problem solving or improvement process, as internal Corrective Action Request (CAR) Process or [read more]

    In business, 'Gemba' refers to the place where value is created and improved. The 'Gemba Walk' is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste [read more]

    Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a lean management technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a [read more]

    Lean is a management philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). With Lean Manufacturing, you will be able to enhance value for your customers by improving and [read more]

    Lean Office is a management philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). With Lean Office, you will be able to enhance value for your customers by improving and [read more]

    Lean Thinking is a management philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). With Lean Thinking, you will be able to enhance value for your customers by improving [read more]

    This presentation has 114 slides and and comprises of the following: * What is Kaizen? * The 10 Commandments of Continuous Improvement * Value versus Waste concept * The 7 [read more]

    In manufacturing operations, standardization is a key element in eliminating process waste and excess inventory and in achieving balanced and synchronous production. Standard [read more]

    The Lean Six Sigma - Process Risk Analysis & Mistake-Proofing Training Module provides your with a step-by-step approach, as well as examples, exercises, and templates, to analyze [read more]

    The Lean - Standard Work Training Module includes: 1. MS PowerPoint Presentation including 88 slides covering the History of Lean Manufacturing, Five Lean Principles, The Seven [read more]

    This presentation has 46 slides and consists of: * What is culture and definitions * What is organisational culture? * How to develop OC * Leaders & Leadership * Great [read more]

    The TWI Job Instruction (JI) program reinforces the practice of Lean Standard Work and teaches supervisors how to quickly train employees to do a job correctly, safely and [read more]

    Lean 5S Visual Workplace Organization describes a systematic approach how to organize a workspace or area for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items [read more]

    Lean-MBA stands for Lean Management Business Architecture. In essence it is the business architecture required to successfully manage Lean. The term "Lean" to me is a state of [read more]

    The Value Stream Map (VSM) is one of the fundamental tools of Lean and one of the most useful. It is used to collect details of a process that makes waste visible. Using [read more]

    This is a 1 day presentation on Lean with over 100 slides, It also provides some self-assessment tools which can be used for group discussions. Define Vision & Mission What [read more]

    This presentation discusses the following aspects: 1. Definition of TPM 2. Origins of TPM 3. Principles of TPM 4. 8 Major Pillars of TPM 5. Benefits of TPM 6. Maintenance [read more]


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