Becoming lean and mean

The concept of �Lean� originated in Japan at Toyota when a group of engineers hit upon the simple idea of improving efficiency by shifting the focus of attention from the individual machines and workstations (and how well they worked) to the flow of the entire process.

So, �lean� is a simple philosophy about 2 main things � flow and waste.

It starts by thinking about the customer (never a bad thing!). What does the customer want? What is he/she willing to pay for?

Then for each product or process, think through all the steps involved and ask yourself � which of the steps add real value? Which improve the offering we make to the customer? Which simply add cost?

Then work out how to get materials and information flowing � with no stops. One key is to have workstations �pull� the stuff they need when they need it instead of the more general approach of pushing it to them when the previous workstation has finished with it. (This results in lots of work-in-progress � and your money being tied up.)

Try to reduce the number of steps needed to get something out of the door and moving towards the customer.

Try to avoid picking things up and dealing with them more than once. Keep the flow going!

You won�t reach perfection � but anytime you move a tiny step nearer, you improve your service to the customer and you improve tour bottom line.

Author:.

Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science -http://www.wcps.info and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK http://www.natprodcentre.com - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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