What is Lean Management?

What is Lean Management? 

Becoming lean means you can do more with less – less effort, less equipment, less time, less space and less money. At the same time your customers will get exactly what they want and are much more satisfied with you.

It began in the Toyota Production System

  • Lean is a philosophy that has come out of the Toyota Production System. After WWII, Toyota, in response to rapidly changing customer desires developed a system that allowed low cost, high variety, high quality and rapid throughput times. Toyota now has become become the largest automaker in the world.
  • Lean principles have been successfully applied in a wide variety of organizations outside of manufacturing such as Hospitals, Financial Institutions and Construction and Corporate Offices.

Eliminating Waste is the Key

  • Lean relentlessly focuses on specifying value from your customer’s view point. You must ask yourself, “What is it that the customer wants and what are they really paying for?” 
  • All of the steps that go into making your product can be classified as those which create value and those that do not.

For Example, if you were making furniture:

  • Value Creating Activity: Fastening a screw to the correct torque
  • Non-Value Creating Activity: Walking to the shelf to find the screw

The fundamental idea of lean is to focus on the elimination of the non-value creating steps. These non-value creating steps are defined as WASTE. Waste is classified into 7 different categories:






 Moving a batch of product across the factory to the next machine



 Excess stock in the warehouse at risk of becoming damaged or obsolete



 Searching for a misplaced tool or component



 Waiting for a late delivery of components



 Producing more than the customer ordered. This product must then be moved to a storage area.



 Repeatedly cleaning the product on its journey through the factory



 Defects need to be reworked or scrapped

Next comes the Elimination of Overburden and Unevenness

Caption: Waste, Overburden and Unevenness influence each other
  • Elimination of waste is the focus of most lean programme efforts. However there are two other factors that are essential to making lean work, Overburden and Unevenness.
  • Unevenness results from the reality of irregular production schedules and fluctuating production volumes
  • Overburden is when you push your people or machines beyond their natural limits. Overburden causes machine breakdowns, defects, low morale and absenteeism.
  • To eliminate unevenness you must stabilize your system and create evenness of production. Creating evenness is done by achieving a balance between your average production capacity, the lead time you offer your customers, the level of customization that you offer and the amount of inventory you hold.
Eliminating unevenness is fundamental in eliminating Waste and Overburden.

Changing from a Push System to a Pull System Means Even More Efficiency
  • Once you have eliminated waste, overburden and unevenness, the goal is to lay the remaining value-creating steps out in a tight sequence.
  • The aim is to then implement a pull system. Instead of pushing unwanted product on to the customer, the customer pulls from you and you make a new product to fill the void.
  • A pull system should make its way back up though the entire production process. This means each step in the process should not be performed unless the next person downstream asks for it to be done, or indicates their readiness to pull from you.

Being Lean Means a Continual Pursuit of Perfection
  • The key to a truly lean organisation is continuous improvement. The lean system is designed to highlight problems rather than to hide them. As problems are uncovered they need to be prioritized and solved in a systematic way.
  • Tools such as Root Cause Analysis and Deming’s scientific method (Plan, Do, Check, Act) are particularly useful, but need to be applied correctly for best results.
How Can Kaon Help You?
  • Kaon Consulting will improve the profitability of your business through the implementation of a lean program. A lean programme requires little capital investment for the scale of results delivered.
  • Our approach considers your full production cycle, from order placement, through your supply chain to delivery of the finished product or service.
  • Importantly we place particular emphasis on the cultural and human factors involved with the changes. This might seem like a diversion from the lean process, but it’s critical if you want to cement lean techniques into your business, otherwise people will “go back to doing things the old way”.

The KAON Lean Programme approach addresses the following 7 key dimensions:
  • A full identification and quantification of waste with actions for improvement
    • This is the result of a comprehensive 3-day audit of your current production process. We’re not afraid of getting dirty and we will thoroughly examine all aspects of your warehouse/factory/office, your team, the end product or service you need to deliver, and what your market needs from you in terms of productivity and flexibility of supply.
  • Factory product, material and information flow master plan
    • Essentially, we recreate on paper and computer the steps, materials and information involved in your production/service process. This allows us to concentrate on specific parts of the operation and improve them.
  • Visual management tools
    • The purpose of visual management is so that virtually anyone in the organisation can assess the state of a play at a glance. This means visual management tools must be simple.
    • Examples of visual management tools include Kanban boards, product buffers, orders in pigeon holes, and scoreboards. With these tools we will enable your staff to make rapid and informed decisions.
  • Rapid performance monitoring (RPM) and corrective action program
    • This is where we put systems in place to allow your staff to monitor their own performance, hourly. This enables them to work to a target and most importantly encourages them to highlight the problems that are hindering their performance as they arise rather than attempting to hide them. 
  • Line and work cell design and implementation
    • We are experienced designers of production facilities, whether it is continuous flow or a cellular operation. We will show you how to design a work cell that ensures your operators are 100% productive, has the ability to flex its capacity up or down by 20%, reduce your processing time and increase your quality.
  • Material replenishment design and implementation
    • Materials need to be in the right place, in the right quantity at the right time. We will tailor the right system for you that ensures your supply chain is giving the productive workers in your organisation the level of service they need.
  • Managing the lean change in your workplace
    • This is the greatest challenge of a lean programme implementation. With open communication, staff involvement and respect for their input we will ensure that the lean techniques we’ve developed for you are embraced and sustained in your organisation. We will show you that by becoming a lean business you are implementing a system that shows a greater respect for your people. 

Subpages (1): Value Stream Mapping