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Lean Management FAQ
What is Lean Management?

Lean Management is a philosophical concept for managing an organization, based on constant elimination of waste, defined as all activities, investments and processes that do not add value to the product or service from the customer's perspective.

The foundation of Lean Management is constantly increasing productivity, to enable a company to successfully compete in the marketplace. It is achieved not by reducing employment or increasing workload, but by involving all employees in continuous process improvement.

The Lean philosophy, derived from the automotive industry, is versatile and applicable to all human endeavors. 

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What type of company can gain most from Lean Management?

Every organization can and should implement a continuous improvement program. Wherever a process takes places, there exists waste and therefore room for improvement. Lean has been successfully implemented in such diverse industries as healthcare, construction, insurance and banking.

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What are the main barriers to Lean implementation?
  • No support from top management for the change effort
  • A conviction that mass production delivers lowest cost
  • A desire to hold lots of inventory
  • No dedicated human resources for initial implementation effort
  • Lack of trust in people
  • No time for training, team meetings and implementation of ideas
  • Strong organizational siloses


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What are the similarities among companies that have succeeded in Lean implementation?

All organizations that have had a successful experience with Lean Management show:

  • Full support and dedication to Lean from top management
  • Assigning top talent to running the Lean program
  • Investing in people - training
  • Excellent communications and a transparent measurement system
  • Never stopping elimination of waste


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Can we implement Lean in all of our facilities at once?

Yes, but experience shows that it is better to learn by trial and error in one place. Lessons gained can then smooth the implementation process across other facilities.

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How to convince others that Lean Management delivers gains?

First of all, before commencing any improvement activities a company should decide on a clear measurement system for improvements. Transparency and communication is always the best form of advertising. Documented success will hopefully convince people who were not on a bandwagon from the beginning.

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Who should participate in Lean activities?

All employees, from top management to the shop floor should participate. Involvement of a top manager is a must. Equally important is ensuring participation of middle management, a layer of organization that is frequently forgotten in the transformation.

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How to commence a Lean Management program?

The first step to implementation is conducting an assessment of current conditions and developing a strategic long term plan for improvement. Once required actions are known, a training program begins commencing at the top level of the organization and slowly descending down the ranks. When people who participate in selected pilot programs acquire necessary knowledge, action in Gemba can begin, typically starting with 5S and standardization.

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How to measure improvements?

Some of the common lean measures are:

KPIs for services and production   KPIs for production
  • Lead Time
  • Mistakes and defects
  • Safety, near misses
  • Work productivity


  • WIP - Work in Process
  • Floor area
  • Flow Distance
  • Changeover time


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Can one apply only some of lean tools?

Lean Management is not a menu from which one can choose items of interest. A majority of Lean tools are finely interwoven, complement each other and cannot exist without one another. Although initial success can be achieved using only one or two tools such as 5S or SMED, permanent improvement cannot be sustained without support from other tools. This in turn, as experienced lean practitioners will testify, requires a change in the organizational culture.

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Is Lean Management applicable only to production?

Lean Management can be applied to any process, whether it is in assembly, fabrication, services or any type of human endeavor. A term Lean Office has recently been used to describe applications of lean techniques in non manufacturing environments.

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