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.

 

people development lean journey

The role of management in a firm: developing better people

ARTICLE - Develop your people if you want to develop a better (lean management) system in your business. This is the key message of this article, which looks at the role of management in an organization and in society.

Corporate world: how does lean work in large organizations?

RESEARCH - This interesting study, based on 44 Volvo plants and 200 Volvo interviewees, looks at how the implementation of lean thinking influences a plant’s performance over time.

Why kaizen lies at the heart of lean thinking

INTERVIEW - What lies at the core of kaizen activity? How has the concept of kaizen evolved over time? Planet Lean’s editor Roberto Priolo discusses these and other topics with kaizen expert Mark Hamel.
lean transformation nestor gavilan

Get quick wins while ensuring a lasting transformation

ARTICLE - Whether an organization pursues a lean transformation often depends on the early financial results - the low hanging fruit - it's able to achieve. This article offers a model to meet business needs while ensuring a transformation lasts.
liker ballé enjoyable work

Build trust and enjoyable work to get employee engagement

RESEARCH - Offering us a glimpse into how the human mind works and into Toyota's approach to people engagement, this article tells us how to create a better working environment for our employees.
toyota people development

A former assistant manager recounts his time at Toyota

FEATURE - The author looks back at his many years with Toyota and shares some of the key lessons he learned along the way. What a unique company!

How to deploy hoshin kanri successfully

FEATURE - Strategy deployment is fundamental to a lean transformation, but managers often struggle to understand its importance amid the day-to-day firefighting. This article will tell you how to make hoshin happen.

What is the role of a sensei in a lean organization?

RESEARCH - For most CEOs, working with a sensei is common practice. Yet, many questions remain on this role. This paper aims to bring clarity to the "sensei mystery".
managing change lean thinking

Pick the right approach to lean thinking to beat resistance

FEATURE - We are often told that employee resistance to change is natural, but it’s really just the result of a wrong approach to lean thinking. Learn to effectively engage people and change will follow.

What happens in our people’s minds as lean takes root

COLUMN - What does lean do for people in your organization? This column explores how their way of thinking changes as a culture of continuous improvement and problem solving takes root.
womack gemba lean thinking outsourcing

The end of outsourcing: produce where it makes sense

ARTICLE - In this essay, one of the 12 new essays written for the second edition of Gemba Walks, Jim Womack encourages firms to "do the lean math" and move production where it makes most sense.
balle smalley spirit lean

Smalley and Ballé discuss the spirit of lean thinking

FEATURE - Two weeks ago, the authors shared their thoughts on mindset. In part 2, they discuss how to grasp the true spirit of lean.

René Aernoudts offers guidelines for lean transformations

ARTICLE - This set of guidelines will help you to understand how to properly structure your lean transformation, keeping into account the entire organization as it tries to embrace and manage change.
smalley balle lean management

Smalley and Ballé discuss the true spirit of lean thinking

FEATURE - We talk about “changing our mindset” all the time, but do we really understand what this means in the context of our lean transformation? This two-part article tries to understand what the spirit of lean really is.

Michael Ballé on rewards and recognition in a lean company

FEATURE - The author addresses the ongoing debate on rewards and recognition, explaining how an optimal relationship between team members, team leaders and group leaders will influence motivation.

Why national traits do not matter when it comes to lean

OPINION - How often have you heard the sentence, “Lean can’t work here – this isn’t Japan”? Probably more than you can remember. Here’s why national traits are simply another excuse for a failed attempt to change.

Lean management: how to transform a business

INTERVIEW - To really change, an organization must use lean management as a strategic asset rather than just a set of tools. In this interview, Art Byrne talks about rewarding people and the process of transforming companies.

Can a company be considered lean if improvements result in layoffs?

ARTICLE - Can a company be considered lean if its improvement efforts result in layoffs? The author answers this frequently asked question drawing from his own experience dealing with organizations.