Being Lean: No more an option

Source By: 

Lean Transformation originated in the mid-1990s when MIT researchers, eager to discover why Japanese automakers were so successful, studied Toyota and other Japanese auto producers and coined the term Lean to describe what they found. ‘Lean’ is not an acronym. The term came about because it conjures images of speed, flexibility, agility, low cost and streamlining. The second term ‘transformation’ aptly describes the major changes to an organizations culture, management style, systems, processes, people and skills that take place when it embraces the lean methodology fully. The genius of lean is not limited to the manufacturing sector and extends beyond simple process improvement. The lean implementation journey is a culture changing, organization-transforming expedition. It compliments a company’s business strategy by focusing on doing things right as opposed to doing the right things.

The goal of the lean methodology is to eliminate waste in workplace systems, enhance consumer value and advance business performance. At a very high level, lean systems offers people at all levels of the organization the required skills and a shared way of thinking to methodically drive out waste through designing, refining and improving activities, connections, and flows. Lean drives standardized thinking without which the team responsible for lean transformation will have different taxonomy, tools and projects heading towards different visions. It may not be imperative that the team members mental models are identical, but it is imperative that their thinking is consistent with each other.

After closely studying and assessing the results of lean implementation in organizations, I have observed that it is a business improvement philosophy but is not a fix for poor business strategy. If you dont have a good business strategy, lean methodology alone wont solve your problems. You have to look at the markets you’re in, the business industry, your technology and your competitive advantage. Ive seen some businesses without intelligent strategies that have successfully adopted lean processes but are yet to perform accordingly. Without the fundamentals of strategic planning and the right business sense, its practically impossible. You need a good mix in a team of leaders who understand the industry domain and business strategy. It is not, at its core, a discipline that helps companies formulate broader business strategies and answer strategic questions such as what business domain they need to be in and the markets they needs to target. Lean does, however, eventually become closely linked to company strategy in two ways: 1) Strategic flexibility. The new performance capabilities of a lean organization (quality levels, costs, delivery times, production flexibility etc) make it agile and provide greater flexibility to make intelligent strategic choices in the market. 2) Recover from having made incorrect bets with respect to products or customers or markets.

In summary, lean methodology coupled with right strategic choices can provide a sustainable differentiators to the enterprises of today.

Comments:Comments 4

  • http://Website James McKenzy

    Excellent work. see you,

  • Kanchan Sood

    James, Nice to hear that you enjoyed my blog…

    In service industry, Lean initiatives typically target eight deadly wastes: overproducing, unnecessary waiting, unnecessary transportation, over-processing, unnecessary inventory, unnecessary movement, too many defects and underutilized resources.
    Once the short term results are achieved, businesses should continue implementing and driving use of Lean tools and techniques such as value stream maps (to understand what customers value), the 5 Ss ( flow tool in the form of a five-part checklist), the JIT (just in time) concept to drive pull behaviour, and the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) framework to continually improve through further waste reduction.

  • Katherin

    Informative article, just what I needed.

  • Nicole

    Even without the pilubc cloud we are already seeing examples of patients data being shared across different health care providers. In many if not most cases this is exactly what you want to have happen but patients aren’t yet aware that if one provider buys their EHR from another local hospital system that their entire medical record has just been shared with all of the providers (who have a need to know) in the system. An example in Seattle recently involved a young woman who went outside of her insurance plan and paid out of pocket for a confidential GYN procedure at a small community clinic. When she returned to her primary care provider she was asked about what she thought had been a confidential surgery. The community clinic however was part of Swedish medical center which sold their EHR to the Polyclinic so the records were shared. Was their informed consent? Perhaps but clearly the patient wasn’t aware that this would happen and felt vulnerable.



  • Subscribe for Blog Updates