What is Lean? Thoughts from Experienced Practitioners
March 7, 2023
by Cj Pettus
WHAT IS LEAN?
What is Lean–and is it something that should matter to you? You’ve likely heard terms like “Lean Thinking” and “continuous improvement.” Perhaps you associate Lean with specific industries, but the term encompasses a lot—including a methodology that can positively impact you and your organization.
At the most basic level, Lean thinking empowers workers to become problem solvers with tools and methodology. Teams who utilize Lean thinking work continuously to improve their processes and outcomes, ultimately better supporting the customer. Companies can achieve their goals and support their customers efficiently, with minimal waste in their processes.
WHO USES LEAN?
Lean can be used to improve the outcomes in nearly any business setting. Although it is, perhaps, most commonly associated with manufacturing, the methodology can be successfully applied in almost any industry, from an office setting to a hospital. Companies choose to become Lean in order to improve their processes, regardless of their product.
WHAT’S AT THE CENTER OF LEAN?
Tools are absolutely part of Lean, but they are just one small component, and they can vary based on an organization’s approach. The real success comes from the employees. A strategy can only be successful if the people enacting it—at all levels—are on board and have agency. By developing people into strategic problem solvers, Lean companies can achieve major improvements while helping their employees grow their skills.
WHAT CAN WE ACCOMPLISH WITH LEAN?
Can Lean improve a company’s bottom line? Most definitely. By improving processes, an organization can decrease waste in daily procedures, increase profits, and better relationships with customers who are receiving a higher quality of service.
But the improvements do not stop there. The entire culture can shift. When employees actively engage in problem solving, they feel empowered to make meaningful, positive change. Teams can work together productively. Overall, companies can grow holistically while achieving financial goals.
HOW DO I BEGIN?
Beginning a Lean journey may seem daunting. But, if you have moved from asking, ‘what is Lean?’ to ‘how can I benefit?’, there are numerous learning opportunities available. At Nexus, we offer a variety of Lean-focused courses, including Lean Leadership, Coaching for Improvement, Kata Mindset, Lean Manufacturing, and so much more. By joining one of these courses—or designing a custom course specifically for your organization—you can learn strategies to transform your company and to better achieve your goals.