What is Lean Thinking all about?

Lean Thinking will reliably improve your company’s productivity and quality of output, reduce lead times and liberate significant resources to support your growth and competitiveness. It describes the thought process and all encompassing Lean Thinking principles that guide your actions when applying lean techniques and tools. It is a proven systematic method and constructive mindset that you can adopt to approach the achievement of a totally waste free operation that focuses on maximising your customer value. Lean Thinking enables you to effect this business transformation by simplifying and continuously improving all processes and relationships in an environment of full employee involvement.

It is highly likely that Lean Thinking is the most intuitive approach to realising your most fundamental process improvement goals. It is all about your people, simplicity, flow, visibility and partnerships, plus true value as perceived by your customers, implemented and professionally facilitated to increased sales and margins without increasing your costs.

As soon as your operations implement Lean Thinking you will be more capable of freeing up office and plant space to increase your capacity to add product lines or additional services, reduce the need for outsourcing and increase output of your existing products and services, without acquiring new facilities or proportionally escalating overheads.

Discover for yourself how Lean Thinking principles will liberate your enterprise from traditional industry constraints. Receive additional information or enquire about Lean Australia training, call 61 (02) 9683 6200 or email admin@performancedrivers.com.au or complete the enquiry form today.

Will Lean Thinking benefit your purpose, processes and people?

Lean Thinking empowers you, your management and staff with a common attitude and a practical tool kit to cut costs and inventories, plus release your cash, something that is critical in both a dynamic as well as a sluggish economy.

A widespread misconception is that Lean is only applicable to manufacturing processes and within large diversified corporations. This is simply not the case as Lean Thinking is relevant in every business discipline, size and process involved with creating more value with fewer resources in an environment where all staff are fully productive, motivated and customer focused.

It is at the core of a customer-centric methodology based on continuous incremental improvement and a respect for people. Lean Thinking is not a rationalisation tactic, a traditional cost reduction program or trendy new business coaching fad, but a positive way of thinking and constructive way of acting to profitably grow your entire organisation.

Lean Thinking provides the means to change management’s focus from the more frequent tasks of enhancing separate technologies, assets, vertical departments or cost centres, to optimising entire value streams, the horizontal flows of products and services that interact with multiple technologies, assets, and departments on route to your customer.

Lean Australia recommends that managers and executives embarking on a Lean Transformation think about the three business fundamentals (Purpose, Process & People), that will guide the transformation of their entire organisation by asking yourself:

  • Purpose: What customer issues will your enterprise need to solve to prosper?
  • Process: How will your organisation assess each major value stream to make sure each step is valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible, and that all the steps are linked by flow, pull, and levelling?
  • People: How can your organisation insure that every essential process has a responsible individual continually involved in and evaluating that value stream as part of your lean process? How can everyone touching the value stream be actively engaged in correct operation and continual improvement?

Thinking deeply about purpose, process, and people is key when selecting the most appropriate Lean Tools and planning their efficient application.

Effecting your Lean transformation

Lean Thinking’s ultimate goal is waste reduction whilst simultaneously maximising customer value. To effect this business transformation, you first need a clear understanding of Lean Thinking principles and knowledge of how Lean Tools can be systematically applied.

Identifying, prioritising and eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and deliver services at far less cost and with fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems.

Lean Implementation will make you able to respond to changing customer demand with high diversity, high quality, low cost, and much improved throughput. In addition, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.

Lean Thinking Principles and Tools

Identifying what creates value and eliminate all other activities, as they are by definition ‘waste’, will become your normal approach to evaluating procedures and processes across every aspect of your enterprise. When you recognise that within your organisation only a fraction of the time consumed, and a small portion of all efforts undertaken, genuinely add value for your end customer, you will have a basis to clearly define true value from your end customer’s perspective. Only then can all your non value activities (or waste) be targeted for systematic reduction and eventual removal.

For most production operations only 5% of activities add value, 35% are necessary non-value adding activities and 60% fail to add any value at all. The principles of Lean Thinking enable everyone involved to identify categorise and quantify waste. Waste that invariably occurs throughout every business falls within seven classifications (the 7 wastes):

1. Transporation
2. Waiting
3. Overproduction
4. Defects
5. Inventory
6. Movement
7. Extra Processing

Lean Thinkers at every level repeatedly ask seven key questions about these seven areas of potential waste, until the answer to them all is consistently.. ‘No!’

  • Is there unnecessary (non value adding) transportation of parts, materials, or information between your processes?
  • Are your people or parts, systems or facilities idle whilst waiting for a work cycle to be completed?
  • Are you producing sooner, faster, or in greater quantities than your customer is demanding?
  • Does your process result in anything that your customer’s would judge to be unacceptable?
  • Do you have any raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP), or finished goods that are not having value added to them?
  • Do you, and by how much do you move materials, people, equipment, and goods within any processing step?
  • Do you perform any extra work beyond the standard required by your customer?

Eliminating these 7 wastes is by far the greatest potential source of improvement in your corporate performance and customer service.

Implementing Lean Thinking tools and techniques

Lean Australia is equipped to introduce you to the Lean tools and techniques that support Lean philosophy and enable your organisations to apply Lean Thinking and implement change. Lean Australia’s
introductory workshops and training programs will prepare you with proven Lean techniques for identifying your organisation’s Value Streams and areas of waste within them.

Your value stream comprises everything you require to design, order, and provide a specific product or service. It includes all of the activities, materials, people, and information that must flow and merge to provide your customer with the value they want, when and how they want it.
Lean Training will provide you with the capability to create your own processes’ value streams on an enlightening value-stream map of your business.

You conduct continuous improvement of your value stream by following the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle of Lean. The PDCA Cycle is the 4 stage Lean working structure:

  • Plan. Create a plan for change, identifying specifically what you want to change. Define the steps you need to make the change, and predict the results of that change.
  • Do. Carry out the plan in a trial or test environment, on a small scale, under controlled conditions.
  • Check (or study). Examine the results of your trial. Verify that you have improved the process. If you have, consider implementing it on a broader scale. If you haven’t improved the process, define a better plan and do it again.
  • Act. Implement the changes you’ve verified on a broader scale. Update your standard operating procedures.

Lean is not a short term cost reduction program, but the way your company will need to operate in an ever more competitive global market. The expression ‘Lean Transformation’ is often used to characterise any company moving from an old way of thinking to Lean Thinking. This transformation requires a long term perspective and perseverance that will result in an all-encompassing revolution in how your company conducts its business.

To make sure you and your colleagues acquire all the essential skills to improve your business processes, plus the knowledge to confidently implement effective Lean principles and reap their many benefits, Lean Australia delivers an unparalleled range of public, group and individualised training options, plus accomplished facilitators and consultants to assist you along the path to sustained business improvement.

Discover for yourself how Lean Thinking principles and tools will liberate your enterprise from traditional thinking’s constraints, receive additional information or enquire about Lean Australia training, call 61 (02) 9683 6200 or email admin@performancedrivers.com.au or complete the enquiry form today.


Performance Drivers Consortium nurtures world class capability and business performance. Meetings focus on the deployment of new and relevant operational performance improvement tools such as Lean Enterprise.

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