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Lean Enterprise

What is Lean

What it is not : 

It is not working with to few people

It is not about laying people off to survive

It is not about making those left work long hours for low pay

It is not micro-managing your workers and penny pinching on materials or equipment.

 What is Lean

 Lean is a way of doing business that focuses on the customer and is looking constantly  for ways to  be adding value to any operation or process.  If the process or activity is not adding value it is just adding cost and time to the operation. 

Lean focuses on identifying and eliminating waste 

The need to become Lean

 Some people experience interesting reactions when they are first introduced to the concept of "Lean ".  A typical response is:

 "I've been in business for more than 25 years.  I must be doing something right because I'm still here especially with the economy like it is. How is Lean going to help me improve my business? I am not a Toyota or a Dell Computers so, tell me how I do I fit into the Lean model?"


Many would agree with this statement on face value. It is somewhat true from the perspective of the individual expressing it. However, the challenge is this.  All around and increasingly more rapidly things and products are changing. If you are running a traditionally managed operation it is likely you are spending lots of time fixing problems or “fire fighting “. Lean organizations however spend more time developing the organization and taking it to the next level of excellence. So unless you are the only “game in town” carrying on in a traditional way will ultimately be your downfall. Its only a matter of time, maybe less than you think.  

Cautionary tale

 Even organizations that say they are Lean and adopt some Lean attributes and tools like General Motors and Chrysler with dominant market shares can fail to see the writing on the wall if they don’t run as a True Lean Enterprise. Although GM and Chrysler did some Lean things they did not approach business in a long term sustainable way and they did not seek to change the culture to adopt this long-term thinking paradigm. The outcome was plain to see and it came faster than they could imagine.   




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