Introduction to Lean Thinking
Lean thinking is a mindset that has been adopted by organizations across the globe to improve efficiency, enhance productivity and deliver value for customers. The approach supports the concept of continuous improvement, working systematically to reduce waste and optimize resources and develop a steady workflow based on customer real demands.
The Lean thinking relies on 3 important ideas:
- Deliver value from customer’s perspective.
- Eliminate waste.
- Focus on continuous improvement.
Lean and Agile both share some similarities in terms of their principles and values, such as their focus on quality and technical excellence, importance of continuous learning and improvement, and encourage working in a self-organizing way instead of micro-managing by superiors. However, unlike Agile which has its roots in software and IT industries, Lean was born out of manufacturing practices.
Lean originated with the Toyota Production System (TPS) in the 1950s which completely revolutionized the manufacturing industry. Back then it was more widely known as “Lean Manufacturing”. It was created to effectively organize manufacturing and logistics at Toyota by eliminating waste called “muda” (7 wastes). Since then, many variations of Lean methodology and tool were developed such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, Just-in-Time and many others.
In order for us to understand Lean in its entirety we would first need to understand the Five Lean Principles:
Figure 1: The Five Lean Principles