What is the Lean Methodology?

Lean methodology is a way of optimizing the people, resources, effort, and energy of your organization toward creating value for the customer. The Lean methodology aims to reduce wasteful activities as much as possible. Read more on Lean Management and the Lean Principles.

To understand how Lean methodology reduces waste and increases value, one must first understand the concept of waste. Waste is any action or step in a process that does not add value to the customer. Continue reading to learn more!

Lean forms of waste

Lean distincts three types of waste:

  • Mura, or unevenness: waste due to fluctuations in demand
  • Muri, or overburden: waste due to trying to do too much at once
  • Muda, or in-process waste: the traditional target of “process improvement
Hoshin Kanri Template

Seven wastes of Lean (Muda)

Muda (in-process waste) is the waste that’s created as a side effect of doing something which can be eiter; necessary waste or unnecessary waste.

There are seven forms of Muda

  1. Transport – Moving items or information
  2. Inventory – Items or information that customer has not received
  3. Motion – Excessive movement within workplace
  4. Waiting – Wating for information or items to arrive
  5. Over Producing – Doing work before it is needed
  6. Over Processing – Doing more work than necessary
  7. Defects – Mistakes and errors that need to be reworked

1. 5S for Lean

The 5S methodology is a system for organizing the workplace.

The purpose of 5S is to make a workplace an easier place to work and function better. The 5 steps turn organizations into a step-by-step system for people to follow. The 5S methodology is viewed as one of the foundations of Lean manufacturing. An important pre-condition to start reducing waste, is to organize the workplace first.

5S stands for the 5 steps of this methodology:

  1. Sort – Clearly distinguish needed items from unneeded items.
  2. Set in order – Keep needed items in the correct place to allow for easy and immediate access.
  3. Shine – Thoroughly clean the work area and keep it that way
  4. Standardize– Standardize the best practices in the work area to maintain the first three steps.
  5. Sustain – Making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures

When there’s a plan for making 5S an ongoing effort and not just a one-time event, it can be sustained over time.

2. Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a Lean Methodology that visualizes all steps in a Value Stream from creation to delivery iof the product, service and/or experience the customer desires.

A common misunderstanding is that an individual process equals a Value Stream. However, as a Value Stream depicts the series of steps that occur to provide the product or service, almost always a Value Stream consists of multiple processes throughout an organisation. The challenge is to straighten out the overall flow of the value stream before deep-diving into fixing individual processes.

Value Stream Mapping provides a “common language” and understanding so that everyone has the same vision. Like a road map, the value stream mapping tool shows the road for the journey, but it is only a guide.

3. Kaizen Problem Solving

The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ littelary means “change for better”. Kaizen is therfore translated as ‘Continuous Improvement’. Kaizen stands for a strategy where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements.

Kaizen Problem Solving consists of six steps:

  1. Define the Problem
  2. Measure the facts
  3. Analyse the facts
  4. Improve
  5. Control & Safeguard the solution