LEAN Information and Workshops

LEAN is a management philosophy and set of principles that aim to optimise efficiency, reduce waste, and improve organisational processes. In an office environment, LEAN principles can be applied to streamline workflows, improve communication, and increase productivity.

The main principles of LEAN include:

  1. Identify value: Determine what the customer values and focus on delivering that value.
  2. Map the value stream: Identify the steps involved in delivering value to the customer and eliminate any unnecessary or non-value-added steps.
  3. Create flow: Organize work in a way that allows for continuous flow and the efficient use of resources.
  4. Establish pull: Use customer demand to drive production, rather than pushing products or services out to the market.
  5. Seek perfection: Continuously improve processes and eliminate waste in order to create a more efficient and effective organization.

In an office environment, LEAN principles can be applied in a variety of ways. For example, a company might use LEAN principles to streamline its hiring process, improve communication among team members, or increase the efficiency of its supply chain. By identifying and eliminating waste and inefficiencies, a company can become more productive and better able to meet the needs of its customers.

LEAN Principles

The LEAN guiding principles are a set of guidelines for implementing the LEAN philosophy in an organization. There are eight principles:

  1. Identify value: Determine what the customer values and focus on providing that value.
  2. Map the value stream: Identify and map the steps involved in creating value for the customer.
  3. Create flow: Optimize the value stream by eliminating waste and ensuring a smooth flow of material and information.
  4. Pull: Only produce what is needed, when it is needed, based on customer demand.
  5. Perfection: Strive for continuous improvement and perfection in all aspects of the value stream.
  6. Respect for people: Foster a culture that empowers and engages employees in the continuous improvement process.
  7. Leadership: Establish a leadership style that encourages and supports the LEAN principles.
  8. Continuous improvement: Adopt a continuous improvement mindset and make it a part of the organizational culture.

These principles form the foundation of the LEAN philosophy and are intended to help organizations create value for their customers while minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency.


LEAN is a philosophy and set of tools and techniques for improving efficiency and reducing waste in organizations. Some common acronyms used in LEAN include:

  1. VSM (Value Stream Mapping): a tool for mapping the steps involved in creating value for customers, with the goal of identifying and eliminating waste
  2. PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act): a continuous improvement cycle that involves planning a change, implementing it, checking the results, and making necessary adjustments
  3. TPM (Total Productive Maintenance): a maintenance approach that involves all employees in the maintenance and improvement of equipment
  4. JIT (Just In Time): a production approach that involves producing only what is needed, when it is needed, based on customer demand
  5. KANBAN (a Japanese word meaning “signal” or “card”): a visual control system for managing the flow of materials and information in a manufacturing or service process
  6. SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies): a tool for reducing the time required to set up or changeover a production process
  7. TQM (Total Quality Management): a management approach that involves everyone in the organization in continuous improvement efforts to achieve high quality products and services
  8. 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain): a methodology for organizing and optimizing a workspace, with the goal of creating a safe, efficient, and visually appealing work environment

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a methodology for improving the quality of products, services, and processes by identifying and eliminating defects. It is based on statistical analysis and uses data-driven decision-making to identify and eliminate sources of variability and error.

Six Sigma has a target of reducing defects to 3.4 per million opportunities, which is represented by the term “Six Sigma.” The term refers to the fact that, statistically, processes operating at Six Sigma level are expected to produce only 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Six Sigma projects follow a structured methodology called the DMAIC process: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This process involves defining the problem and the target for improvement, measuring the current performance of the process, analyzing the data to identify the root causes of defects, implementing improvements to the process, and establishing controls to ensure that the improvements are sustained.

Six Sigma is often used in manufacturing and service industries to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction. It is a continuous improvement methodology that is focused on eliminating waste and variability in order to create value for customers.

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a tool used to visualise and analyze the flow of materials and information needed to create a product or service for a customer. It is used to identify and eliminate waste in a process to create value for the customer.

Value stream mapping involves creating a visual representation of the steps involved in creating value for the customer, including both value-added activities (those that directly add value to the product or service) and non-value-added activities (those that do not add value from the customer’s perspective). By identifying non-value-added activities, it is possible to eliminate or minimise them to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Value stream mapping typically involves creating a “current state map” and a “future state map.” The current state map shows the current process as it is currently being performed, while the future state map shows the optimised process with waste eliminated. The difference between the two maps can then be used to identify improvement opportunities and create an action plan for implementing changes.

Value stream mapping is often used in manufacturing and service industries as a tool for continuous improvement and is particularly useful for identifying waste in complex processes with multiple steps.

PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)

PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a continuous improvement cycle that helps organizations identify problems, test solutions, and make necessary adjustments to improve processes and outcomes. It is also known as the Deming Cycle or the Shewhart Cycle.

The four steps of the PDCA cycle are:

  1. Plan: Identify a problem or opportunity for improvement and develop a plan for addressing it.
  2. Do: Implement the plan and collect data on the results.
  3. Check: Analyze the data to determine the effectiveness of the plan and identify any problems or issues that need to be addressed.
  4. Act: Make necessary adjustments to the plan based on the results of the analysis and implement the revised plan.

The PDCA cycle is an iterative process that involves continuously identifying problems or opportunities for improvement, testing solutions, and adjusting as necessary. It is often used in conjunction with other continuous improvement tools and techniques, such as value stream mapping and Six Sigma, to drive continuous improvement in organizations.


KANBAN is a visual control system for managing the flow of materials and information in a manufacturing or service process. It is used to signal the need for production or the availability of materials, and is often associated with just-in-time (JIT) production and inventory control systems.

The word “KANBAN” is a Japanese term that means “signal” or “card.” In a KANBAN system, cards or other visual signals are used to communicate the need for materials or the availability of finished goods. When a workstation or storage location runs out of a material or component, it sends a signal (usually a card or an electronic message) to the previous workstation or supplier to indicate that more is needed. This helps to ensure that materials are produced or delivered only as needed, reducing excess inventory and waste.

KANBAN is often used in conjunction with other LEAN tools and techniques, such as value stream mapping and 5S, to optimize the flow of materials and information in a process and improve efficiency. It is a flexible and adaptable system that can be customized to fit the needs of different organizations and processes.

Last modified February 1, 2023: Learned about weight for folders (2962d1c)