Lean: Do You Know What it Means?

Now, I thought that the definition of lean was relatively well understood among lean practitioners while the implementation was not, but after reading this recent piece in Industry Week on Lean Confusion, I’m wondering if it’s not the other way around?

According to the author, people are confused — both about what defines lean and how to implement lean. As an example, she uses the reaction to an article that the Wall Street Journal published in July that outlined component shortages and Nissan Motor which concluded, that, in part “the drawbacks of lean manufacturing methods” were to blame, augmented by an overstretched global supply chain. It’s a good example — Apple’s not about lean and, as one proponent countered, it’s obviously yet another example of shoddy reporting from the WSJ where the supply chain is concerned.

So what is lean? Simply put, it’s maximizing customer value while minimizing waste. It’s not any particular set of processes, methodologies, or technologies — those are just tools of the trade. Lean is not just the tactical implementation of a new system or process, it’s the strategic redesign of your operation to maximize value while minimizing waste. That might involve new systems and processes, but that’s not lean. Lean is a strategic mindset, not a tactical exercise.

It’s a good article that makes a good point. Check it out.

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