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Management

Strategy for Lean Thinking and Learning in Organizations

Lean thinking strategy

With the advancement of technology and competition in the market, the improvement of our approaches is always welcome.

The Lean approach would help our employees by focusing on customer needs, directing and limiting the cost of production resources solely in achieving goals that create added value for the consumer. Reference: “Lean integration in organizations – a real example“, https://mstsnl.net/lean-integration-in-organizations-example/

I will tell you about a process/product I went through recently how I dealt with it and how it all starts in the field of automation and development. I have come to the point that this type of thinking is applicable everywhere and regardless of our industry or need.

Lean processes, strategies, and methodologies

All these processes, strategies methodologies, and needs are united by the customer’s need, regardless of whether the customer is an end-user, supplier, colleague, etc.

We all have one goal to meet the customer’s needs. Customers don’t care how long it takes to build something. They are only interested in the fact that it meets their needs.

Part of my responsibility is to improve processes in the company to minimize errors, increase resources with less effort and cost. Different desires and ideas keep coming. Here’s how one of them goes.

For many years, a routine process has been going on in the company, which requires a lot of time from colleagues in the business department.

The service has performed an average of 150 times a day and any delay can lead to loss of revenue (ie dissatisfied customers waiting on the spot in the office to meet their needs.

The truth is that they didn’t even have a business process and steps to take, they didn’t have a rollback plan in case of mistakes, and they didn’t analyze the possible risks.

I think this is one of the biggest problems in any company – employees do not know their processes, but this is another area to consider. And to improve such cases we need to get rid of any defects, inconsistencies, and overload of the client.

Identify the customer and the added value

Once the idea arrives, it is most important to identify the customer and the added value that the product or service brings them.

Then you include a description of all the processes, teams, and accompanying activities that participate in the stages of creating added value in the company’s products or services. Reference: “20 Keys to Workplace Improvement (Manufacturing & Production) explained with examples and strategies”, https://phron.org/20-keys-to-workplace-improvement-manufacturing-production-explained-with-examples-and-strategies/

This is the ultimate end-to-end process that creates added value for the customer. The first step is followed by an analysis of how you deliver them.

In this case, I prepare an analysis of the client’s needs by answering a group of different questions. Why do they need them? How often is the service used?

What does it contribute to the end-user and the company as revenue? How long does it take them on average from one working day? How many departments are involved in this process? In this case, two departments were involved – Business and All stores. And many other issues.

Then begins the analysis of their manual process and the risks and problems and data from it. Based on this it turned out that not only was there no exact process, but also the data on the systems turned out to be wrong.

The third step is to create a new process by eliminating redundant components, first of all, we adjusted the data for reporting needs and built a new process.

You have to think outside the box. What we aim for in automation is to reduce execution time by up to 50% compared to the manual process, which would ensure that the path in which the customer receives added value is direct – without interruption, bypass, loss, or delay.

Accordingly, we improved both the work of all internal employees and the satisfaction of the end-user by analyzing when he needs this service and why.

One of the last “problems” he dealt with was perfectionism. What is important is the customer experience. My product was not completely ready when I implemented it.

It had minimum requirements to cover the needs in the first place that are most often used. Subsequently, the second phase started, in which I improved and upgraded the whole process based on customer feedback.

By this, I mean that even if the product is not perfect and ideal if it adds value, it will be accepted, and with the help of consumers and their points of view, it can become ideal.

And once a process is ready, all that remains is its maintenance by setting the necessary metrics to monitor the implementation of the process, making adjustments so that it is feasible in a real environment. The results are monitored and whether they meet the set goals.

What is Lean

Lean is a manufacturing practice that considers spending money for any purpose other than creating value for the customer as a loss. From the perspective of the customer who uses the product or service, “value” is defined as an action or process for which the customer is willing to pay.

This helps to indicate which production costs to eliminate. The customer certainly does not pay you for the time that a defective product travels back for a complaint or for the time that two teams from different directorates lose in a long meeting, which can be replaced by e-mail, provoking decision-making and taking responsibility.

At its core, Lean focuses on preserving value with less work.

“To maximize customer value while minimizing waste.” To increase added value for the customer by reducing surpluses. This means more value for the customer with fewer resources for the company.

Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy that took shape in the Japanese automobile company Toyota (under the name Toyota manufacturing system) in the 1950s under the leadership of Taiichi Ono.

Lean Philosophy is a process of continuous improvement and elimination of components that do not bring value.

Toyota is known for its focus on reducing the seven (according to many researchers eight) processes with production surpluses: overproduction, defective production, transport and logistics, complex and numerous processes and procedures, warehousing, pointless actions, defective products existing in the company, but unused knowledge, know-how.

Kaizen

By eliminating these losses (‘muda’, 無 駄), quality improves and production time and costs decrease. To solve the problems posed in this way, “tight production” uses many different approaches. Reference: “The Kaizen 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement”, https://agileprogramming.org/kaizen-20-keys-to-workplace-explained-examples/

These include continuous analysis (improvement) of (production) processes (“kaizen”, 改善), “traction” production (through “kanban”, カ ン バ ン or with “kanji” 看板) and assurance against errors “poka-yoke”, пока カ ヨ ケ).

Lean sets out 5 basic principles to follow to avoid the above waste of time, resources, and energy:

Identifying customers and the added value that their products or services bring. This helps to see which units in the company are responsible for the “user experience” and the generation of “added value” for the customer.

It is so easy to identify that small teams in the company usually do most of the work, and redundant units are easy to remove.

Identifying and outlining the path of creating added value for the customer in the company.

This includes a description of all processes, teams, and accompanying activities that participate in the stages of creating added value in the company’s products or services.

This is the ultimate end-to-end process that creates added value for the customer. After the first step – to find out what are the needs and desires of your customers – the second is to analyze how you deliver them.

Create a new process by eliminating redundant components. In the beginning, you will always find that only 5% of the processes in your company add value to the customer.

In the best-case scenario, once you eliminate redundant processes, this percentage can increase to 45%. This would ensure that the path in which your customers receive added value is direct – without interruption, circumvention, loss, or delay.

Conclusion

You meet the demand of the market. This means understanding when and why your customers are looking for your products and services and the process following the customer’s needs when and where the customer wants.

Perfectionism. Once you have identified the “surpluses”, you must understand that this is not a philosophy of processes, but you must accept it as a “philosophy of your work”, strategy, and vision.

The radical reorganization of work in the company, which should follow the path of the customer who receives the product and the customer experience, rather than its complex internal processes and procedures, will help you see more redundancies.

This way you can be convinced that the implementation of the Lean strategy will guarantee you not the high, but the unquestionably high quality of products and services.