Hands up everyone who has been “leaned”!
A common issue in a lot of organisations is that Lean process improvement is simply imposed onto teams with little thought for their context. A key issue is that the tools and techniques are just solutions that have been developed to answer to specific problems in Toyota. Just installing them into an organisation quickly reduces the whole project to being a “Do To” process of “being Leaned” with disastrous results.
At Secret Skills, I view Lean as being a philosophy that has left a trail of methods behind it. A lot of people get hung up on the techniques and forget the philosophy. Going beyond the tools and techniques to really understand Lean Thinking provides great insight.
Lean Thinking is all about understanding how you do things. It looks at the timeline from the moment that you are requested to do something to the point where it is complete. The focus is then on doing it better, smoother and faster to close the time between the start and the finish. The Lean Thinking philosophy also integrates systems thinking concepts to recognise that a change in one area is likely to have an effect, either positive or negative, somewhere else and must be accounted for.
Stepping back and taking the Lean Thinking approach means that it is easier to identify elements of tools that are appropriate for use in a wide range of setting outside of industry. For example effective work scheduling can be a personal, as well as an organisational, activity.