To us, Lean is about getting more value out of the resources you already have in your organisation, by optimising relevant processes and doing so in a way that the customer also experiences a positive impact. It is an old Japanese approach typically associated with the automotive industry, but applicable to many other contexts, as it is simply about developing good ideas and systematically implementing them using your employees’ common sense and a few simple Lean tools. Lean is not only relevant for large automotive manufacturers and mass-production facilities. It is relevant to anyone who controls some form of process - which could be anything from invoicing, procurement, production of goods, education and training or even treatment of patients, to name just a few examples. Above all, Lean is about implementing changes, which includes visible changes in the organisation and subtle changes that occur within individual employees. This is where the Lean process of change becomes really exciting and challenging. Our goal is always to guide the organisation and individual staff through the changes in an inclusive, fun and efficient manner. We believe Lean is best - and only - implemented when a person is fully involved in the process. Our approach is to implement Lean on a personal level, as we believe that truly great outcomes are borne out of close relationships with the people we work with and for through a combination of active participation and common sense. We are passionate advocates of Lean and firm believers in its principles, the 7(+2) Wastes and the traditional Lean tools - because if it works, why change it?
De 5 Lean principper
The 5 Lean principles are to the Lean practitioner what the alphabet is to a child just starting school. They serve as an indispensable foundation and framework for the entire Lean way of thinking, and it is these principles that the guidelines for your Lean process will be based on. It is all about customer focus and value creation: Why do we exist as an organisation, who do we exist for and what kind of value do we create? These are interesting questions which touch on the purpose of one’s organisation. That which we make a living off providing to our customers is something we must make as flexible and streamlined as possible, and we should never stop trying to make it better. That is essentially what the principles are about.
7+2 Types of Waste
Fundamentally, we must build our products and services in the most efficient way possible, avoiding and eliminating what Lean practitioners call waste. Lean defines 7 very specific types of waste which we must identify, minimise and, ideally, completely eliminate from our processes. In doing so, we achieve flexibility in how we deal with our product and our customers as well. We often refer to waste as the extra steps that have been incorporated into a process in order to reduce the number of faults and defects, which is why it must be reduced in a way that results in a manufacturing process that is lean, streamlined and has as optimised a lead time as possible.
The Hardware / Software model
When we here at soXso work with Lean, it is always with the viewpoint that while the purpose is to optimise processes, it is employees who own these processes. That is why employees are the ones who really feel the impact of these optimisations and accordingly, they are the ones we must work with to implement these changes and ensure their buy-in. We believe Lean is 20% about tools and 80% about instilling change in people. The tools and their effects (the hardware component) are something you can see with the naked eye and monitor on a daily basis. However, what is more difficult to keep track of is what changes occur within the individual employee (the software component). This is often the most difficult part of the Lean process. It is something we are very conscious of, and again, experience has shown that you can only tackle challenges in that regard by ensuring your employees are involved, informed and trained. After all, if a person does not know or understand why a Lean process has been set in motion, it is no wonder if it does not result in any change.