By Asim Rais Siddiqui, co-founder and CTO at TekRevol, Asim helps businesses bring their digital vision to life by delivering scalable technology solutions.
As a business philosophy, lean focuses on creating value for customers by removing product-related preconceptions and ideas from the organization. Through constant market testing and customer insights, you create the most customer-centric business model/product to achieve maximum efficiency.
In the lean methodology, the term “value” describes the action or process that the customer pays for. A more simplified definition of the lean methodology is “focusing on reducing work while increasing value.” The main motive is to boost work processes by eliminating wasteful efforts.
After the waste is identified and eliminated, the organization observes an increase in its efficiency, improved quality, time effectiveness and productivity. The aim is to get the processes completed in the right way and at the right time to ensure perfection, sustainability and productivity.
The Two Pillars Of The Lean Methodology
There are two main pillars of the lean methodology. The whole idea of improving an organization’s productivity and sustainability is based on these two pillars. These two pillars are constant improvement of an organization’s workflow by eliminating waste and fostering respect for people.
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The Continuous Improvement Cycle
The continuous improvement process describes the lean method of constantly searching for an agile and more informed way to carry out tasks. In a nutshell, the process revolves around four basic components.
• Identification: The process of determining opportunities that could improve the workflow.
• Planning: Searching for a solution to improve the current processes.
• Execution: Implementing the changes.
• Reviewing: Analyzing the effects of the changes made to the work processes.
Although the lean methodology clearly states one of its goals is the elimination of waste and several entrepreneurs think of lean this way, the truth is that the main goal of this methodology is to create value for customers.
So how does the lean business philosophy create and add value? Well, this methodology helps an organization shift its focus toward learning and evolving. After implementing the lean philosophy, an organization seeks what matters the most to the customers and eliminates what does not matter. An organization starts streamlining processes to ensure that customer expectations are met, which automatically adds value for customers.
Furthermore, by quickly delivering the product or service, a business can access feedback on a shorter timeline, enabling it to make the product or service more customer-oriented.
However, whether the product or service delivered adds value to the customer or not, your organization would receive valuable insights into your product (what customers think), enabling you to quickly improve your product or service. This is how the lean methodology enables you to master business agility through lean planning.
Moreover, the lean business methodology emphasizes constant learning about the audience and their demands. This learning mindset enables employees to develop and foster a learning and testing mindset. When employees test ideas by applying them to the market without any investment, they learn what will work and fail.
Foster A Culture of Equality
Several organizations tend to make decisions regarding their product or service, starting at the top and rolling down to the front-line staff. The lean methodology neglects this idea and fosters a culture of equality where every employee has a voice and their opinion matters. Usually, the front-line staff is closer to the product and customers, so listening to their ideas would prove to be more valuable in improving your product or service.
Moreover, when you go to the place where the work is done, you get ideas on how the process can be revamped to better suit and add more value to the customer. This lean ideology or concept is called “going to the Gemba.” It enables the employees to think independently, act as a team, and develop the confidence and motivation to make decisions that enhance innovation. “Going to the Gemba” allows a business to capture the most innovative ideas and bring them to life.
How many times over the years have you heard that “good leaders are those who bring the best out of their employees and not the ones who are driven by ego or power of the position.” The lean management philosophy aims to minimize such a culture of demotivation and no recognition by elevating the front-line staff’s voice.
When lean leadership is applied, it empowers employees to make decisions independently, master their abilities by retaining talent and discover their purpose. All these attributes contribute to adding value to the efforts of the employees. When the employees are given the opportunity, they lay the foundation of the most appropriate course of action that would help them capture goals defined by the leader.
Examples of Organizations That Use Lean Methodology
Toyota: The first company to adopt the principles of lean methodology was Toyota. The automobile giant named its process “the Toyota production system.” Not only did the system eliminate waste, but it also allowed the company to master the ability to minimize or discontinue products that do not seem to meet customer requirements. Furthermore, several tasks inside Toyota are now automated, like quality evaluation, which reduces human effort and the chances of mechanical faults or errors.
Another process called the JIT system entails that the second phase of development starts once the previous phase has been completed.
Intel: The processor manufacturing giant has adopted the lean methodology to create top-quality products to deliver to an industry that demands high performance. Adapting to the lean methodology helped them reduce the time of bringing a microchip to the factory from three months to less than 10 days.
Intel realized that manufacturing low-quality chips at high quantity was not the way; ensuring customer satisfaction and waste reduction was.
Lean Methodology, In A Nutshell
Applying the lean methodology to your business will enable you to optimize the way your resources perform and focus your energy on creating value for your customers. Some of the most recognized brands have adapted to the lean business philosophy to create a sustainable, agile, data-driven and productive organization.