Lean Management

The idea of “lean management” can refer to both individual managerial behaviors and, more in general, the set of principles and practices characterizing the adoption of lean thinking in an organization.

In the first case, lean management is closer in meaning to the idea of “lean leadership” and entails the development of behaviors that foster continuous improvement at the front line, such as respect for people, asking questions (rather than providing answers), going to see to really understand the work and the causes of problems, and scientific problem solving. In the second instance, lean management describes the lean philosophy more in general.

In its more general meaning, lean management – or lean thinking, if you prefer – derives from the Toyota Production System and is now recognized as a superior management approach that, through continuous improvement, customer focus, teamwork and relentless people engagement, leads to great results in terms of quality, performance, delivery, and cost. The promise of lean management is to create the most value for customers using the least possible amount of resources. As an approach to running a business, it brings benefits to all parties involved, from customers to employees, suppliers to wider society.

 

Using lean problem solving at the Rio Olympics

FEATURE – At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team went from being the underdogs to winning a silver medal by apply lean problem solving.

From kaizen to innovation

FEATURE – Innovation is a process and lean thinking allows that process to take place, by empowering everyone in the company to think creatively about solving customer problems. 

Rising from the ashes thanks to lean thinking

FEATURE – This Norwegian company has come back from the brink of bankruptcy by rallying its people around a common set of values, by leaning out its processes and by involving its leadership team.

Can you standardize creative work?

FEATURE – The belief that standardization kills creativity can be a severe hindrance in a lean transformation. The author discusses how he convinced his team of architects to give standards a try.

Good Thinking, Good Products

FEATURE – Following a recent visit to Toyota, the authors strive to challenge popular beliefs and shed a light on the underlying philosophy that has made TPS a success for over half a century.

Lean learning happens across sectors too

FEATURE – The power of cross-pollination: learning from a manufacturing company has helped a cancer treatment center in Brazil to thrive in its lean transformation.

Lean thinking for the family business

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – The author discusses the benefits that the many family businesses making up our economies can harness from embracing lean management.

The depth of lean thinking

FEATURE – To really embrace lean thinking means to ensure the bureaucratic structures in our organizations enable our people to excel, rather than constrain their creativity.

Lean Thinking: ingredients, incubation and diffusion

FEATURE – The author offers an overview of the ingredients that made lean thinking what it is, of the 30 years of incubation it underwent at Toyota, and of its diffusion from 1980 onwards.

What influences our ability to sustain change?

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – The author visits a company that has sustained lean for a decade. In trying to understand how they did it, he finds how fundamentally the management system has changed.
building trust lean company

Michael Ballé on how to really build trust in a lean company

FEATURE – In this interesting piece, the author explains why living up to the ideal of mutual trust is hard, and how lean tools can help us build a workplace based on respect.
An interview with lean pioneer Freddy Ballé

An interview with lean thinking pioneer Freddy Ballé

INTERVIEW – Having started to explore TPS in the mid-1970s, Freddy Ballé is one of the great pioneers of our movement. Here, he shares what he learned about Toyota over the past 40 years.
the lean employer jim womack

Jim Womack on what makes for a good lean employer

WOMACK’S YOKOTEN – What does a lean employer look like? In this month’s column, the author reflects on the long-term commitment to employees a company engaged in lean thinking should make.
lean learning cross fertilization

Learning from one another accelerates our lean progress

FEATURE – By bringing organizations together to regularly share updates on their lean journeys, Instituto Lean Management has managed to create a flourishing lean healthcare community in Catalunya. But hospitals aren't the only ones benefitting.
Toyota Australia Altona closure lean thinking

How we secured a future for employees at Toyota Australia

FEATURE – Last year’s shut-down of Toyota’s Altona plant in Australia moved us all. Here, the former Divisional Manager of Manufacturing offers a first-hand account of how the company made the most of a terrible situation.
car dealership lean leadership

Changing our dealership to changes lives in the township

FEATURE – The principal of the Halfway Ottery dealership explains how their lean culture based on respect and improvement is not only changing the business, but transforming the lives of people in the townships.
analysing traditional management

Mainstream management after decades of lean

FEATURE – Lean has now been around for quite some time, and its impact on business world is hard to dispute. But what does it tell us about traditional management practices?
MAS Holdings creating a lean culture

Supporting Sri Lankan society by transforming our company

INTERVIEW – Prior to his talk at this year’s Lean Transformation Summit, the CEO of a large apparel manufacturer tells us about the company’s lean journey, and its impact on Sri Lankan society.