Lean Services

While lean government and lean healthcare technically fall under this category, we consider lean service organizations to be those operating in areas like call centers, retail, hotels, restaurants, offices, banking, and so on. In such environments, there is a direct interaction with the customer, which should be seen as an opportunity to get real-time feedback on our service rather than a nuisance we have to deal with (if you have ever spoken with a customer care representative, you know what this means).

A common problem that practitioners trying to bring lean to services encounter is the difficulty to identify “the work” – whereas in manufacturing the product is in front of everyone’s eyes, in service organizations it is often hidden behind paperwork or a computer screen. Once the work is clearly visible, however, the opportunities for improvement are plentiful. To date, we have seen thousands of organizations striving to lean out the service they provide customers: from restaurants chains in the United States and China to a group of bakeries in Barcelona, from call centers to hotels, the application of lean services ideas can have an extraordinary impact on our economies. Especially if we consider that the service industry accounts for more than three-fifths of the global GDP and employs more than one-third of the global workforce.

Lean thinking is naturally a fit for the service industry, because of its focus on constantly delighting customers and on providing them with value-adding products.

A lean improvement lab in Turkey

FEATURE – A laboratory testing services firm in Istanbul has turned to lean management to reduce complexity, shorten lead-times, and make its growth sustainable.

How we are creating a lean daily management system

VIDEO – The director of a hotel in Tenerife explains the first steps the team is taking to develop a lean daily management system, and how this connects to the organization's hoshin.

Making hoshin work for our lean hotel

VIDEO - The director of a hotel in the Canary Islands explains the hoshin efforts taking place in the organization and takes us through the lean strategy deployment boards she uses to track progress and highlight problems.

Retaining talent to make a difference

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – This French company provides support to the severely disabled, and is currently using lean thinking to limit employee turnover and recruit faster.

Bringing humanity back into customer support

INTERVIEW – We have come to dread having to interact with customer support representatives, and quite rightly so. Basecamp has made it a mission to bring humanity back to this interaction.

How we are rolling out lean in our chain of stores

FEATURE – When Praktiker decided to turn to lean thinking, they were faced with the challenge of rolling out its principles and practices to 20 DIY stores. Here’s how they are trying to make it work.
lean thinking American Family Insurance

A long-term commitment to lean at American Family Insurance

INTERVIEW – With a long history of improvement efforts and a commitment to giving divisions the time to really grasp lean thinking, American Family Insurance is laying the foundation for real and lasting change.
lean visual management 365 cafe

Learn how 365 manages HR and accounting using visual boards

THE LEAN BAKERY – In the last episode of our video series, we learn how 365 is using an impressive visual management system to manage the accounting and human resources functions.
space optimisation small batches 365

Small batches and clever use of space for great flexibility

THE LEAN BAKERY – In this episode of our video series, we visit 365's super-lean workshop, where small batches and a clever use of space allow for unprecedented levels of flexibility in manufacture.
Nigel Dalton REA Group with Jim Womack

Learning to think holistically about customer value

PROFILE – The leader we profile today has a holistic view of the digital world. He brought Agile to Australia, and after embracing lean thinking he has helped to make REA Group one of the country's best digital brands.
work improvement 365 bakery lean management

How the 365 bakeries improved service to clients with lean

THE LEAN BAKERY – In this video, a shop coordinator explains how the 365 bakeries were able to speed up service to customers and ensure product quality by reorganizing work and responsibilities.
digital transformation lean thinking REA Group

How lean is securing the future of this digital advertiser

CASE STUDY – How do you keep up with a market changing at the speed of light? The Chief Inventor of an Australian digital company explains how they are using lean to safeguard their future.
lean thinking insurance company Sulamerica

Lean management in a Brazilian insurance company

CASE STUDY – An insurance company in São Paulo is experiencing a complete turnaround driven by a very capable Lean Office that understands its role is to gradually make people autonomous.
lean retail 365 shops

Managing a chain of 100 cafes in Barcelona with lean

THE LEAN BAKERY - For the past decade, lean has fuelled the growth of a chain of cafes/bakeries in Barcelona. With 100 now open, the Retail Manager explains how lean helps them manage a booming business.
cash to cash model lean thinking Halfway

Freeing up cash by reducing stock at a lean car dealership

FEATURE – This story from Cape Town car dealership Halfway Ottery shows just how much eliminating stock can contribute to turning around a business by freeing up cash.
lean thinking at the Halfway Production Centre

Developing our people to flow value to our customers

CASE STUDY – One-piece flow and a focus on lean leadership and kaizen have allowed the Halfway Production Centre in Johannesburg to turn itself around in just 14 months.
Halfway Ngami lean transformation

Fast and lean car servicing and repairs in Botswana

FEATURE – You have never seen a workshop like this before: Halfway Ngami in Botswana has creatively transformed car servicing and repairs by making problems visible and introducing flow.
lean sales Halfway Ottery

Growing car sales by 400% in a dealership using lean

FEATURE – For the first article in our series on the Halfway transformation, we asked the Sales team to tell us about how they apply lean to selling cars in a challenging social context.