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If Not Lean Thinking & Management, Then What?

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Embedded in the concept of lean management are an indispensable set of principles of immense importance to the effective management of any organization. Predicated on the practice continuous improvement and process efficiency, lean management can in many respects be unquestionably classified as the engine room of an organization that propels a work culture where everyone is doing what everyone should be doing in the way it is best done to get optimum results for all stakeholders.

That the environment within organizations given to the practice of lean management, is one that's typically permeated with idea generation, innovation and rapid resolution of problems is not at all surprising. Among other evident outcomes are structured management and reduction of operating costs, cycle times and resource wastage; increased productivity and profitability; excellent customer experiences, met expectations and of course high stakeholder retention rates.

Adopting and implementing lean management infrastructure is consequently vital as without such an organization can in effect be speeding the process of its own demise.

Here are 3 of several reasons

Why Lean Thinking and Management Shouldn’t be Ignored

1. It's Foundational to Process Stability & Improvement

Sound business processes are core to the success of any organization and its capacity to build resilience. In fact, without effective processes, prospects for efficient resource management, sustained growth and overall opportunities for continuous improvement can easily be compromised. Mindful as well that outcomes are often the manifestation of processes, effective process management is unquestionably indispensable to business stability and improved opportunities for best management of economic and other systemic changes.

The Lean Management concept and discipline, is predicated on a set of tools to quickly evaluate processes, especially from a risk perspective using process mapping, FMEA (failure modes and effects analysis), error-proofing and visual management to adapt existing processes for the short term, while allowing more time to redesign processes over the long-term. If not Lean Thinking & Management, for driving this type of in-depth process analysis, then what?

2. It's a Bedrock for the Emergence of High-Performing Organizations

Correlated to process stability and improvement is the natural emergence of high-performing organizations. It is highly unlikely that organization given to continuous process improvement will emerge as failures.

Think about it, inherent to every organization, large or small, formal or informal, local or international is a deep-rooted link between their purpose of existence and processes that support their existence. While their purpose finds expression in strategic configurations, their functionality and competitiveness is indisputably manifested in an effective operating framework.

In effect, the operational management capacity of an organization is fundamental to its long-term viability. Maintenance of a platform that optimizes operational efficiencies, using lean principles and methodologies, should consequently be prioritized given its indisputable importance to the inherent value and progressive emergence of an organization as a high performing entity.

3. It is central to Improved Employee and Customer Responsiveness

There is no doubt that in an environment of efficiency, the rate of employee satisfaction is likely to be higher with resulting effects on productivity, innovation and customer service delivery. In reality we don’t need to look far to find evidence of high outputs, less chaos, improved communication, high levels of resilience and unmistakable trust in well-managed organizations.

The distinctiveness between one organization and another very often is embedded in how things are done, an understanding of why things are done and an openness to hear from each other on how things can be improved. This is where for example the lean concept of Gemba plays a vital role. Hearing from line employees is an extremely potent improvement and development strategy. In fact, it is quite simple, organizations excelling in healthy dialog and good relations with their employees, excel in service to their customers.

Quick question before we go - If not Lean Thinking & Management, what?

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