There’s pressure mounting from all sides for businesses, or indeed any organization, to perform to ever higher levels with fewer and fewer financial, human and infrastructure resources. Changing and more aggressive market demands have dictated the direction that must be followed to ensure competitiveness, sustainability, profitability and shareholder returns.
Of course, there are many ways to respond to the pressures, and one of the most effective is to adopt a LEAN approach. Taking a LEAN approach significantly aids in the reduction of waste (here we are talking about time, energy, resources, etc.), and this in turn can effectively reduce capital requirements and operational costs. The real benefits also show in much improved service delivery and a driving up of overall quality.
Put simply, LEAN is series of positive actions that strive to eliminate waste at every conceivable point of an organization’s operations. It is based on 5 core principles:
Organizations that have adopted the LEAN approach see value and value added activities from the perspective of their customer. They consider first and foremost: “Will a customer pay for this element of what we do, and will they see what we do as of value to them?” If not, then it is a waste and should be eliminated.
LEAN organizations use value stream mapping to identify irrelevant and unnecessary steps in a process. Once identified as a waste, every effort is made to eliminate those steps from the process.
There is nothing better in business than a smooth, seamless flow, be it information, supply chain materials, or service provisions. LEAN companies identify and eliminate blockages, stoppages, and shortfalls in internal processes, and supply and service delivery.
The basic principle here is that nothing is produced until there is a demand for it. LEAN companies employ a strategy to only replace something once it has been consumed. So companies only make enough products to meet customer demand rather than for stockpiling.
For LEAN organizations, perfection in all they do is the overriding goal. In the drive for continuous improvement, perfection is at the forefront of all else. Objectives embrace zero hold-ups, zero shortages, zero downtime, zero waste and of course zero accidents or injuries.
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