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Suresh Jayaram

What Is Lean?

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What is Lean?- This is the most commonly asked questions. Today I thought of posting the answer to this question here, so the people can easily refer to it.


"Lean is a philosophy which focuses on two main concepts:

The first is the elimination of wastes from all processes so that only steps that add value from a customer's point of view are the ones that are performed by the company. Lean focuses on continuous improvement where all employees in a company are constantly looking at their processes to eliminate waste. Lean provides some guidelines on how to look for these wastes-usually referred to as the eight wastes (Waiting, Over-production, Rework, Motion, Over-processing, Inventory, Transportation, and Human Underutilization). The concept of waste elimination requires a change in culture and mindset of its employees to encourage them to constantly look for and submit ideas for workplace improvement. Each small improvement made by the workforce may be inconsequential to the overall business but over a period of time, they add up and can be a huge source of competitive advantage to the company.

The second main Lean concept is making things flow - making sure that the material or information moves smoothly within a company to meet the customer demand without getting stuck anywhere in the process. Continuous flow requires arrival of material or information just in time to when the material or information is needed in the right quantities and at the right time. This also implies that when the material or information arrives, it is immediately processes and passed on to the next step in the process. Of course, continuous flow just for the sake of making the product or information that no one needs is also a waste. So, continuous flow has to be linked with customer demand and material or information should be produced only on pull from the customer. Pull and continuous flow are difficult concepts to deploy in reality-there can be a number of issues that can crop up when implementing these initiatives. For example, the work that is done on the material or information should be defect free. If this were not the case, we would not be able to satisfy a waiting customer downstream. Since, ideally there is no excess inventory any production problems such as machine breakdowns may cause the customer to wait and disrupt the entire process.

Both Lean and Six Sigma focus on business process improvement. Whereas, Six Sigma focuses on variation reduction to improve process performance, it is Lean which focuses on reduction of wastes to add the most value to the customers."

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Pretty insightful. The Lean concept is explained in very simple terms here.


No doubts that Lean and Six Sigma have become essential in order to drive a change and lead to the improvement in the processes that are being followed in various domains and various organizations .

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What is Lean?


Well, lean is all about elimination of waste.


general statistics say, around 90% of the work that we do is waste. Only 10% of the work is actually value adding and for which the customer is willing to pay.

It is lean, through which we find ways of eliminating this unwanted activity. Though 100% elimination may not be possible in most cases, it will definitely improve our processes.

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