Lean Thinking

This article is the first one in the series to talk about Lean and Lean thinking and how we can use it with our teams and organisation.


Rohit Ratan Mani

2 years ago | 2 min read

It is a term coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones to capture the essence of Toyota Production System (TPS).

Lean thinking (LT) is a way of thinking to about activities, that generate value, and visualising the waste that is created in the process of generating value. LT builds a culture which focuses on eliminating waste and aligning customer satisfaction with customer satisfaction.

LT supports continuous learning and improvement in the workplace. LT at its core puts people first and b elieves in building autonomy with a purpose.

LT talks about five principles:

1)     Value - Value is defined from the perspective of the customer who uses the product or service.

2)     Value Streams - The Value Stream is a sequence of all the steps to create a product or service that provides value to the customer. The activities in a Value Stream can be classified as:        

a)      Value-Added: activities that add value to the product or service from the point of view of the customer. E.g: Writing unit test cases as you build quality in the product adds value.

b)     Non value-added: activities that don’t add value to the product or services from the point of the customer. These activities consume effort and resources. E.g.: waiting for approval.

Lean regards these activities as Waste or Muda.

3)      Flow - Visualising Flow helps in managing customer demands with right amount of inventory. Once the Flow of work is visible, teams can identify non-value added activities, manage batch sizes (single piece flow), avoid rework, reduce inventory (ready work for developers, ready work to released, etc.) and reduce processing time.

4)     Pull - The Pull model of working builds up on “Just-In-Time” (JIT) concept. The concept of JIT means producing a product or providing a service when the customer has ordered it. It helps in moving away from “just-in-case” model where are organisations are overproducing in anticipation of demands and resulting in attempt to push sales.

A pull system in a product team helps in flow of work from backlog to release in a streamline way.

5)     Perfection - Perfection is a pursuit to continuously strive and improve things together one step at a time. LT supports the spirit of Kaizen in every team members. Kaizen means change for better.

How are you demonstrating a Lean Thinking? Let us know in the comments.

In the next blog we will talk about Lean Thinking practices.


Created by

Rohit Ratan Mani

I am a life coach working as an Agile Coach supporting individual, teams and organisation in transforming.







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