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 The LEAN Portal

A Consulting Company

Focused on bringing LEAN expertise to small and medium-sized businesses

 

What is Lean?

Lean is a customer-centric methodology used to continuously improve any process through the elimination of waste in everything you do; it is based on the ideas of “Continuous Incremental Improvement” and “Respect for People.” Focus on the fundamentals.

The basic principles of Lean are

  • Focus on effectively delivering value to your Customer
  • Respect and engage the people
  • Improve the Value Stream by eliminating all types of waste
  • Maintain Flow
  • Pull Through the System
  • Strive for Perfection

 

What’s “waste” anyway?

Waste comes in three main forms:

  • Mura or waste due to variation
  • Muri or waste due to overburdening or stressing the people, equipment or system
  • Muda also known as the “seven forms of waste”

 

The following are the wastes most commonly associated with Lean:

  • Transportation: Is there unnecessary (non-value-added) movement of parts, materials, or information between processes?
  • Waiting: Are people or parts, systems or facilities idle — waiting for a work cycle to be completed?
  • Overproduction: Are you producing sooner, faster, or in greater quantities than the customer is demanding?
  • Defects: Does the process result in anything that the customer would deem unacceptable?
  • Inventory: Do you have any raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP), or finished goods that are not having value added to them?
  • Movement: How much do you move materials, people, equipment, and goods within a processing step?
  • Extra Processing: How much extra work is performed beyond the standard required by the customer?

 

But the waste of Human Potential is the greatest waste of all!

 

Now you are familiar with the term ‘Lean’. It has become a popular terminology for change in today’s corporate and business culture.

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.

Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far less costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. Companies are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.

Lean for Production and Services A popular misconception is that lean is suited only for manufacturing. Not true. Lean applies in every business and every process. It is not a tactic or a cost reduction program, but a way of thinking and acting for an entire organization.

Businesses in all industries and services, including healthcare and governments, are using lean principles as the way they think and do. Many organizations choose not to use the word LEAN, but to label what they do as their own system, such as the Toyota Production System or the Danaher Business System. Why? To drive home the point that lean is not a program or short term cost reduction program, but the way the company operates. The word transformation or LEAN transformation is often used to characterize a company moving from an old way of thinking to lean thinking. It requires a complete transformation on how a company conducts business. This takes a long-term perspective and perseverance.

The truth is that ‘Lean’ is simply a way to reduce waste using an approach that centres on creating value for your customers. The Lean approach centres around 5 categories:

  • Value
  • Value Stream
  • Flow
  • Pull
  • Perfection

One of the most common issues that we see with our clients is the amount of times we hear, “I don’t know why I do that” or “we’ve always done it this way”. Sometimes, it takes someone from the outside to question the status quo.

VSM Tool

The LEAN Portal consultant spends time observing your key processes to determine if they are set up for maximum efficiency. We begin by developing simple, customer-focused process maps and work with your staff to develop a leaner, more efficient process and finally gain approval through your in-house compliance process.

 

 What is KAIZEN?

Kaizen, Japanese word for “improvement” or “change for the best”, refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, business management or any process. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, Kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions, and involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste. If a work environment practices Kaizen, continuous improvement is the responsibility of every worker, not just a selected few.

 

Change Management

Managing change is difficult for most organizations because they miss one key, single fact. The people in your organizations have to want to change! The only way to do this is to be open and honest with your people regarding what is happening and more importantly, what is expected of them. They then have the choice of being on board for the change or not. The “You’ll do it and like it!” School of Management that some of our old bosses have attended will hopefully be closing its doors soon when people realize that “Managing ain’t telling, son. It’s selling”

Here’s how to go about it. Start by eliminating the obstacles in employees’ minds that cause anxiety; then you can clear the path to change.

Employees first need to understand the mechanics — that is, how the change will affect the way they do their jobs. Employees must understand how new things work before they can implement a change. Next, workers need to embrace the change psychologically. So how well you communicate the facts is critical to ensuring their emotional acceptance. Finally, employees wonder if the change reflects a shift in the organization’s values. Therefore, take the time to explain what’s really prompting the change. Of course, when you live by the values you profess every day, employees are less apt to attribute procedural changes to a wholesale discarding of company values.

When you properly teach your employees how to implement a change, remove any emotional concerns they have, and demonstrate that the organization’s values are intact, you will be able to drive change effectively. When you prepare your employees for change this way, they will be less likely to resist new approaches — and more likely to put changes into practice quickly. And nowadays, Leadership is all about change.

 

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a five-step approach (DMAIC process) that drives unwanted variation from products and processes.  By understanding and controlling underlying root causes, teams fix problems at the source, resulting in the lowest possible cost of quality for a given process. But the good news is that most processes can be improved with a well defined problem, the right team, and a simple set of process improvement tools. So the Pareto Principle applies to the Six Sigma toolkit itself:  a small handful of process improvement tools (which existed long before the Six Sigma approach was created) will solve the majority of the problems that a team will encounter – tools involving very little in the way of statistics.

So what are the key ingredients and tools that will solve the majority (let’s say 4 out of every 5) of process improvement challenges?

  • A clearly defined problem statement that is narrow enough in scope for the team to succeed.
  • Data to support where the process is currently, in terms of defects per million, scrap cost, sigma-level, or whatever measure is going to be improved upon.
  • A project team made up of those who understand the process the most, and a team leader who is respected, understands the basics of DMAIC, and can keep the team on track.
  • Positive management support – team members will need time to collect data and work on the project.

DMAIC stands for Define. Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control – it is a simple decision making process.

 

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