What is Lean?
Lean is a management philosophy, a process improvement approach, and set of methods that seek to eliminate non-valued added activities or waste. The key principles of Lean are:
  • Specify & deliver value as seen by the customer.
  • Identify and create end to end Value Streams.
  • Make the value flow from raw material to customer – eliminate waste.
  • Pull Production not Push.
  • Strive for Perfection: continual improvement.
Lean methods include kaizen events, such as accelerated improvement workshops, and value stream mapping workshops. It is often said that Lean is “common sense uncommonly applied.”
What is a Lean Kaizen Event?
Lean kaizen events enable rapid, breakthrough improvements in as little as a few days, while creating a continual improvement culture. Kaizen means “to change for the good of all” in Japanese. While Lean process improvement approaches were developed originally for use in the private sector to target manufacturing processes, there has been steady progress towards adapting these approaches for use on service and administrative processes. Public sector interest in Lean is increasing rapidly, fueled by strong improvement results and in some cases, economic hardship.
What is Value Stream Mapping (VSM)?

Value stream mapping refers to the activity of developing a high-level visual representation from start to finish of the process flow involved in delivering a desired outcome, service or product (a “value stream”) to customers. The typical products of a two to five day VSM event are two maps—a “current state” map of the targeted processes and a “future state” map of the desired process flow—and an implementation plan for future process improvement activities.

Value stream maps help people see not only waste but the source of the waste, they help to target future kaizen improvement events on specific processes or process steps in the value stream towards its desired “future state” value stream map.

What Other Tools Are in the Lean Toolbox?
Along with value stream mapping kaizen events and Six Sigma agencies are using a variety of other Lean tools, such as the following :
  • 5S: 5S is an improvement process involving five steps (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Self Discipline) to create and maintain a clean, neat, and high performance workplace. 5S is often used to ready the workplace for future kaizen events and continual improvement efforts. Some organizations add a sixth “S” for Safety.
  • Standard Work: Standard work represents the sequence of activities needed to perform a given operation. Improvements made during kaizen events are immediately documented as standardized work to ensure that all employees understand and uniformly implement the new process.
  • Visual Controls: Visual controls are used to reinforce standardized procedures and to display the status of an activity so that every employee can see it and take appropriate action as needed. Visual controls are frequently implemented during kaizen events to simplify the workplace and provide visual feedback on process performance.
Does Lean Work in a Government Setting?
There are numerous examples of government agencies embracing Lean and generating notable results in terms of internal efficiency improvement, customer satisfaction, reduced processing time and cost savings. The government organizations use Lean thinking, tools and techniques to improve value for taxpayers' money. It has been proven that Lean techniques are applicable to all aspects of all government organizations.
Why should we do Lean?
Lean can dramatically improve the performance and effectiveness of agency processes in a relatively short time frame. By using Lean tools an organisation can expect to :
  • Eliminate or dramatically reduce backlogs.
  • Reduce lead times by more than 50%.
  • Decrease the complexity of processes and eliminate not value adding process steps.
  • Improve the quality and consistency of work products and activities.
  • Cost savings
  • Allocate more staff time to “mission critical” work.
  • Improve staff morale.
  • Enhance process transparency to internal and external audiences.
Is this just another flavor of the month improvement initiative?
Lean is different from past improvement efforts in several key ways. Lean:
  • Takes a “customer service” perspective that seeks to optimize value delivered to the environment, the public, and the regulated community;
  • Involves employees and external stakeholders in continual improvements and problem-solving activities;
  • Deploys a rapid continual improvement framework that emphasizes implementation rather than prolonged planning;
  • Seeks to reduce the complexity of processes and
  • Uses metrics and visual controls to provide rapid feedback to improve real-time decision-making and problem-solving.
Lean is not an initiative, it is a journey. We are never done improving but are always looking for new ways to improve and better meet the customers’ needs.
Is there a connection between LEAN & Digitalization? How can LEAN help in Digitalization?
Companies today are under tremendous pressure from their competitors and customers to overcome the challenges that call for a digital transformation for :
  • Running tighter and real-time performance and cost controls in operations,
  • Rethinking business models and strategies,
  • Acquiring entirely new capabilities in Data Analytics, Technologies & Social Media,
  • Continuously launching new ideas,
  • Improving the digital customer experience,
However, it is important to note that it’s right strategy & not technology that is key to the success of digitalization.  Hence, despite off all the possibilities new technologies offer, companies need to have a clear strategy in mind before starting a transformation. We see three main focus areas that determine the strategy to generate value for costumers by :
  1. Optimizing existing processes and services by removing waste.
  2. Develop quality new products & services & offer them fast to customer at competitive price.
  3. Create new digital end-to-end customer experience.
This is exactly where LEAN comes for help by working on end to end value stream to maximize efficiency by removing all wastes in the process. A LEAN process is not only fast to digitalize but also cost efficient.
I like the idea of Lean, and would like to introduce it to my workgroup. How do I get more information?
TQMI has Lean Practitioners who can schedule time with your workgroup to talk about the principles of Lean and guide your workgroup through an interactive exercise. TQMI further has a team of experts who can coach your team members as inhouse LEAN resources & mentor the LEAN transformation projects for a mutually beneficial engagement. Contact www.tqmi.com for more information.
How does plan to implement Lean start?
The Lean goal is to successfully complete LEAN Transformation projects & drive the changes into organizational culture for long term sustainable business operations . We at TQMI join hands with such organizations which are interested in LEAN transformation & we ensure that there is enough clarity, handholding and focus in these initiatives till results are delivered & desired goals are achieved. This is JUST THE BEGINNING and that we have a long LEAN journey ahead of us. The goal is to keep an eye on the ball and move forward with a targeted, deliberative, well-planned approach allowing Lean to grow by success.