Lean Process Management

Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Saving money is an important concept for all companies. Spending less money means more money in their pockets. In this lesson we will learn about a concept that can help a company save money while still creating a quality product or service.

Looking at Lean

Max just got a promotion at work. While the development is exciting and is just what he has always wanted, the new position is a little intimidating. Max will now be a manager, a role he has never fulfilled. Up until now, he has always relied on someone else telling him what he needs to do. Within just a few hours on the job as manager, Max overhears a group of other managers talking about Lean. What was Lean? Feeling nervous that he was not doing the job his company expected of him, Max decided to do some research to understand what was meant by the term Lean and how he could practice it in his new role as manager.

Defining Lean

So what is meant by the term Lean? Well Lean is the process of trying to minimize waste while at the same time maximizing value. It is the idea of continuously making improvements to processes while getting rid of any unnecessary waste.

What is waste? Waste refers to many things such as variations in products or services, overusing machines, moving materials that do not need to be moved, employee idle time, and overproduction. Eliminating waste means finding a way to use the least amount of resources. Using more resources then what is needed is wasteful and costly for a company.

A company wants to be able to provide a valuable product or service but do so with the least amount of resources used. Max learns that the ideal situation is creating a perfect product or service with a happy customer with absolutely no waste.

The Role of Management

While Max now knows what Lean is, he is still unclear on what his role as a manager is where Lean is concerned. What does he need to do? Will his management practices be any different from a manager that does not practice Lean? After reading some more materials, Max learns that Lean managers mostly jump right in and observe the processes firsthand. Observing the processes as they occur provides the manager with information on where changes need to be made. They can see where waste is occurring and which steps, procedures, or areas are not working well. Observing the processes themselves also allows the manager to gather the data they need to begin to make changes.

Another way Lean managers differ from other managers is that they need to find a way for all of the steps to flow or stream nicely together. Lean managers must ensure their employees, assigned tasks, and materials consumed are working together and streaming. A Lean manager takes what may have once been separate activities or different departments and finds a way to bridge them together so that process smoothly transitions from each activity or department.

The goal is to find all of the areas that are creating waste so that the entire process from start to finish creates a product or service that is of high value and uses the least amount of resources. Therefore, Max now knows that focusing on the entire process helps a company get rid of additional employees, unneeded materials, repetitive or inefficient activities, and wasted time all while eventually saving a company money and creating products and services that have the fewest defects.

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