Lean: Creating More Value With Less Work


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Did You Know?

The most innovative companies innovate at 10 times the rate of the average company, and 60% of their innovative ideas come from suppliers.

-Harvard Business Review

Lean manufacturing is all about eliminating waste. Lean considers customer inputs and conducts a "war on waste," creating a culture of continuous improvement. Lean techniques are, in the most basic form, the systematic identification and elimination of wastes, the implementation of the concepts of continuous flow, and customer pull.

Need help with your Lean Processes? Contact the Lean Team

The Five Lean Principles

Specify Value

Specify Value - Identify what is value and what is not

  • Anything the customer is willing to pay for
  • The process object has to be physically changed
  • Must be done right the first time

Map the Value Stream

Map the Value Stream - The value stream is all the activities necessary to deliver a product to customers.

  • Problem solving: Concept to design and production
  • Information Management: Order taking, scheduling, delivery
  • Physical transformation of raw materials to delivered product

Create Flow

Create Flow - After eliminating waste in the value stream, make the value added steps flow together continuously, with no stoppages or rework

  • Utilize just-in-time production
  • Eliminate specialized departments and batches of work done in those departments
  • Focus on the end product itself and the steps required to complete a single product - via dedicated, cross-functional product teams
  • Redesign processes and tools to eliminate rework, scrap and stoppages so production of the product can flow continuously



  • Deliver only what the customer wants, when the customer asks for it, rather than pushing products out and hoping customers want them
  • Downstream activities use kanban (simple signals) to indicate to upstream activities when more is needed
  • Right-size your tools and process so you don't need to produce massive quantities of intermediate parts

Pursue Perfection

Pursue Perfection

  • The improvements process never ends: you must always strive to offer a better product while reducing waste
  • Do kaikaku - radical transformation - to eliminate the largest sources of waste, and do kaizen - continuous incremental improvement - to move toward perfection
  • Keep your efforts focused for better results
  • Don't settle for merely being better than your current competition

Source: Villanova University