The Lasting Benefits of Lean Thinking

Sep 13, 2018

Would your business benefit from improved focus, less waste and increased customer value? If so, a lean thinking business methodology may be the mindset that holds the key to more efficient business processes.

What is lean thinking?

Lean thinking is a business methodology and mindset that aims to provide a new way of thinking about how a business organises human activities to eliminate waste and deliver more benefits and value to individuals and society.

Lean thinking is a new way of thinking about any activity, taking note of any waste inadvertently generated by the way the activity is organised.

The methodology focuses on the concepts of:

  • Value
  • Value streams
  • Flow
  • Pull
  • Perfection

With the goals of:

  • Improved focus
  • Removing waste
  • Increasing customer value
  • Creating a lean enterprise
  • Minimising unnecessary costs to customers, suppliers and the environment

The basic premise of lean thinking is that by training every person to identify wasted time and effort in their own job and working better together, your business will be able to deliver more value at less expense while developing every employee’s confidence and competence.

How did the methodology come about?

The term ‘lean thinking’ was coined by management analystsJames P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, who used the term to describe their in-depth study of Toyota’s Production System.

The five basic steps towards assessing lean operations

  1. Identify which activities create value
  2. Determine the value stream
  3. Eliminate those activities that do not add value
  4. Allow the customers to pull value from products and services
  5. Start over and improve the process

Lean thinking in action

In practice, lean thinking is all about smooth process flows, focusing only on those activities that add customer value and generate revenue, and eliminating all other activities that don’t.

Visionist Consulting used lean thinking to focus on increasing the value of the business and users of the Department for International Trade. We eliminated old processes with the use of an outside-in approach to understanding the problems, allowing us to develop an idealised and user-centric design that ensures accessible and inclusive processes and solutions.

Read more about this case study.