The Missing Link in Lean: The Management System core idea behind lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers; however, most prescriptions to lean production are missing a critical ingredient: a lean management system to sustain it.

Lean management practices are like many other aspects of lean: easy to grasp, but difficult to execute consistently. To create a lean management system, you should focus on targets you see such as leaders’ behaviors, specific expectations, tools, and routine practices. An organization may implement a lean project and install new layouts to establish flow, begin pull signaling, and develop ways to pace production, but this may only get you a 20 percent improvement. To identify sustainable implementations of lean you must focus on the remaining 80 percent. This remaining portion of required time and effort is made up of tasks that are less obvious and much more demanding.

A lean management system focuses on processes and consists of the discipline, daily practices, and tools you need to establish and maintain a persistent, intensive focus on process. It is the process focus that sustains and extends lean implementations. It is also important to remember that in lean systems results do matter; however, the approach to achieving them differs sharply from conventional management methods. The premise is this: Start by designing a process to produce specific results.

In my proceeding blogs, I will discuss different methodologies to establish a lean management system.

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