What is Lean Thinking?

What is Lean Thinking? Lean Manufacturing, Lean Startup may come to mind… but these are just examples of Lean interpretations depending on the field in which it is applied.

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What is Lean Thinking? Lean Manufacturing, Lean Startup may come to mind… but these are just examples of Lean interpretations depending on the field in which it is applied. The basis of Lean thinking is very simple:

“Measure and obtain data continuously to eliminate or correct those tasks or processes that do not add value to the final product or the final customer, and to enhance what does bring value, all this with the focus put in the continuous improvement.”

Find below a quick presentation video of Lean Thinking:

What is Lean thinking?

Being Lean is creating value and reducing waste (which does not create value) in order to reduce costs and improve productivity, efficiency and quality. You may be thinking that this is nothing new and that really is the goal of any organization, but in practice it is not like that. How many tasks that are carried out are truly useful for the final product? How many useless or unproductive meetings are held throughout the week? How much time is lost by performing repetitive tasks that could be automated? How much time is lost by performing tasks incorrectly due to poor communication between departments or chains of command? In some companies the “waste” (any task or element that consumes resources without providing value) can reach 90% of the work done.

Lean Thinking and waste

Sometimes it is difficult to identify these wastes, but they are there. Here are some examples of waste in the company:

Waste related to information

How many times have we worked with data that is not useful? And how many times have we needed data that you have not provided? Or another more common case: How much time have we spent processing data that could have been given automatically by some digital tool?

Waste related to processes

A great example is approvals by superiors. Is the number of people needed who have to approve a decision or supervise a task? Or do they only hinder and delay decision-making by generating bottlenecks?

Waste related to the physical environment

Traveling for a meeting can be a waste of time and money existing video calling tools such as Skype or

Another very common example in the company is found in face-to-face training. Some of them have become very tedious because of a lot of problems:

  • High costs in trainers.
  • Payment of overtime or assume the opportunity cost of stopping production.
  • Little flexibility in terms of assistance.
  • Few ways to measure the impact or retention of knowledge.

Waste related to human resources

Interruptions, lack of training, lack of talent, lack of motivation, diffuse responsibilities…

Precisely this last type of waste should be the priority of the department of human resources and are much easier to solve than it seems with the right tools.

How to apply Lean thinking

Your strategy to start being Lean may be simpler or more complex, but the basis of any Lean strategy is measurement. If you do not measure, you can not improve. The long-term goal of Lean thinking is continuous improvement and this is only possible by measuring and analyzing.

Do you already know what Lean thinking is? Are you ready to be Lean? Find more information and examples about Lean Thinking in this post.