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Documentation and Work Instructions

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Lean Enterprise

1. Lean Enterprise
2. History of Lean
3. Lean Tools
4. Application of Lean
5. Lean Implementation Programs

It is important for an individual to be fit and lean for best performance. This same principle applies to organizations ass well. A Lean Enterprise focuses on applying resources effectively by eliminating non-value added activities. Although traditionally it was used in manufacturing, same concepts are applicable to service industry as well. Lean approach provides a systematic way of looking at flow throughout the whole organization. It can help you to streamline and optimize operations.

Benefits of Lean

Reduce cycle time
Reduce inventory
Reduce Work-in-Process (WIP) Reduce costs
Increase capacity
Improve lead times
Increase productivity
Improve quality
Increase profits [1]

Lean is a management philosophy focusing on reduction of the seven wastes:

- Transportation
- Inventory
- Motion
- Waiting time
- Over-production
- Processing itself
- Defective Product (Scrap in manufactured products or any type of business.)[2]

Focusing on eliminating waste throughout the organization will help you identify which aspects of your process add value and which ones do not. Especially in service environment your time wasted is the wasted time of the custormer as well. By being more efficient you are helping your customers be more efficient as well.

To solve the problem of waste, Lean has several "tools" at its disposal. These include constant process analysis (kaizen - Japanese for "change for the better" or "improvement"), "pull" production-philosophy and mistake-proofing.

Lean is not just a toolset. Rather it is a holistic, comprehensive, enterprise-wide program designed to be integrated into the organization's core strategy. In addition, experts in this field believe that philosophy-based Lean strategy is the most effective way to launch and sustain lean activities. The so called "Toyota Way," popularized by Dr. Jeffrey Liker's book of the same name, emphasizes the creation of the right kind of environment in which to grow and support Lean Thinking.[2]

Lean principles include:

- Pull processing: products are pulled from the consumer end, not pushed from the production end

- Perfect first-time quality - quest for zero defects, revealing & solving problems at the source

- Waste minimization - eliminating all activities that do not add value & safety nets, maximize use of scarce resources (capital, people and land)

- Continuous improvement - reducing costs, improving quality, increasing productivity and information sharing

- Flexibility - producing different mixes or greater diversity of products quickly, without sacrificing efficiency at lower volumes of production

- Building and maintaining a long term relationship with suppliers through collaborative risk sharing, cost sharing and information sharing arrangements.

Lean is basically all about getting the right things, to the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity while minimizing waste and being flexible and open to change.

Lean thinking got its name from a 1990' s best seller called "The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production". The book chronicles the transitions of automobile manufacturing from craft production to mass production to lean production.

The seminal book "Lean Thinking" by Womack and Jones, introduced five core concepts:

1. Specify value in the eyes of the customer

2. Identify the value stream and eliminate waste

3. Make value flow at the pull of the customer

4. Involve and empower employees

5. Continuously improve in the pursuit of perfection.[2]

Lean Manufacturing tools can be applied to any process service or manufacturing. Time is a resource that is wasted the most in our age of information. It is important to use lean techniques at all times. Lean is a philosophy that can be applied by an individual or an organization.

Danuta Highet

Foqus, Inc. November 1, 2006


[1] -

[2]Notice: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lean Manufacturing".

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