Lean methodology is not a new concept; it has been around since the 1950s, when Japanese car manufacturer, Toyota, created a more efficient approach to manufacturing. But while lean is often associated with manufacturing, and is still used in the sector, lean can help businesses of all shapes and sizes eliminate waste and streamline their processes.
The lean methodology looks at how a business can highlight value by removing everything that isn’t needed, i.e., waste. The idea behind this is that when you remove waste from a business process, overall quality improves, and your production costs lessen. Waste elimination is a fundamental part of lean manufacturing, but it can equally be applied to any type of business.
More Engaged Employees
Employees are more likely to be engaged with their jobs when business processes are efficient and well-oiled. Nothing causes more frustration than when systems are unnecessarily time-consuming and there are numerous inefficiencies in the workplace.
The lean methodology involves reviewing business processes to identify opportunities for improvement in the process workflow. This is a continuous cycle, not a one-time thing.
Lean businesses are continually looking to improve their business workflow processes, remove bottlenecks, and make things more efficient. This ensures the business never stagnates and eliminates waste. Employees are more productive, workflows run faster, and the end customer benefits. In addition, costs are reduced, which improves the company’s bottom line.
Healthy businesses are growing businesses. The lean methodology supports business growth by improving the effectiveness of how it is managed. Workflows speed up, product output is increased, and waste is eliminated. This allows the business to grow more holistically while reducing the risks associated with growth.
Working within a lean framework encourages supervisors and managers to take a more proactive approach to the management of the business and its processes. Problems are identified and inefficiencies reduced, which allows managers to focus on other issues, such as increasing profitability and building a better team.
Better Customer Service
Ensuring the end customer is satisfied is the most important goal of any business. If customers are unhappy, they will go elsewhere for their products and services. The lean methodology takes the customer journey very seriously. It looks to improve the customer journey and eliminate issues, such as slow delivery times and sub-standard products. Implementing lean methods in your business can help to boost customer satisfaction, which in turn will boost customer retention and profitability.
Introducing Lean Principles to Employees
The lean methodology needs to be a top-down approach, endorsed by upper management and embraced by middle and lower managers. It will be hard to engage employees if they don’t understand the benefits, which is where education comes in. Provide employees with an overview of how lean principles work, explaining what 5S is and how it can benefit them.
Even if the business doesn’t fully embrace lean, small improvements can be made to boost efficiency and deliver measurable results along the way. Over time, as benefits are realized, larger changes can be implemented.