Implementing A Lean Management System for Optimal Performance

Mar 29, 2023 | Change Management, COO Best Practices, Digital Transformation

“We have to trim the fat.”

It might be something you overhear at your favorite supermarket, but trimming fat also has relevance for the proponents of lean management. Based on a production system established by Toyota during the late 1940s, lean management encompasses several business operation principles that reduce the number of processes that do not produce much, if any value. Subsequently referred to as the Toyota Way, lean management has become an especially coveted goal for businesses operating across all sectors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

The fundamental premise behind developing a lean management strategy is called continuous improvement, which represents a long-term approach to business that attempts to achieve small, yet measurable changes that enhance both product quality and operational efficiency. Businesses that adopt a lean management system produce value for customers by getting the most out of resources, as well as creating a consistent production process that relies on identifying and delivering customer needs.

Trimming the fat in your organization boils down to minimizing the waste of time and money by eliminating steps in the business proves that do not generate any value

What Are the Benefits of Lean Management?

The ultimate goal of implementing a lean management system is to lower operating costs, while at the same time increasing revenue. Managers benefit by overseeing a much more practical business process in which employees contribute because there is a demand for their professional expertise. A much-improved use of resources is based on consumer real-time demand, not on a set of sales projections. Organizations that adopt at least some lean management principles enjoy an increase in operational focus, which can improve the productivity of the workforce.

Implementing a lean management system for optimal performance creates a business environment that gives your company more flexibility to address customer concerns in a much more efficient manner.

What Are the Principles of Lean Management?

Building on the Toyota Way established more than 80 years ago, lean management systems incorporate six foundational principles that managers follow to achieve optimal performance.

Identify Value

As the first step of the lean management system, identifying value helps discover the problem or problems consumers face, and then create a product that solves the problem or problems. Developing a product represents the solution that consumers agree to pay for at a certain price. Any activity that is part of the product development process that does not add value should be considered waste, and thus, removed from the production process.

Value Steam Mapping

Value Stream Mapping concerns the process of plotting your organization’s workflow, which includes every action completed by employees that contribute to delivering the final product to consumers. Managers get to determine the processes that play a role in product development, which includes identifying which employees handle each step in the process. Visualizing product development allows managers to decide which parts of the product development process do not generate value.

Emphasize a Continuous Workflow

Breakdowns in the product development process inevitably lead to operational inefficiencies that cost your company both time and money. Emphasizing a continuous workflow ensures each employee contributes to a product development process that does not include any interruptions. Kanban, which represents a lean management technique created by Toyota, uses visual cues to motivate workers to take action and foster open communication. Breaking down the entire product development process into smaller components helps remove bottlenecks in the process.

Establish a Pull System

Establishing a pull system helps ensure a continuous workflow stays stable, as well as allows team members to complete work assignments at a much faster pace without exerting as much mental and physical effort. A pull system is at the heart of implementing a lean management system because it concentrates on reducing or even eliminating waste from the product development process.

Encourage Empowerment

Toyota’s groundbreaking implementation of lean management techniques did not involve a top-heavy approach to management. Instead, lean management is all about empowering employees to make on-the-spot decisions that prevent slowdowns in the product development process. Empowerment is the answer to employee reluctance to remove wasteful business practices by giving your team members the autonomy to make business decisions in real time.

Promoting Continuous Improvement

Implementing a lean management system does not involve reaching the finish line for optimal performance. You should view lean management as a process that seeks continuous improvement by recognizing what your company has accomplished and what your company needs to do for getting more out of less. Lean management is not an isolated process that never changes. Managers must constantly find ways for the organization to get better at exceeding customer expectations.

Like a meat department employee handling a favorite cut of meat, you can always trim more fat.


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