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.

Supporting the Australian service industry

INTERVIEW – What skills do coaches need to successfully support lean transformations in the service sector? Our colleagues from Australia tells us about their experience.

How I learned to treat people like individuals

FEATURE – In this intimate, moving account, the author shares her journey of personal transformation that caused her mindset and her attitude towards employees to dramatically change.

Pioneering lean thinking in hotels

FEATURE – Dreamplace Hotels in Tenerife have been on an improvement journey for several years, but only recently did they find a way to truly become a learning organization: lean thinking.

Lean delivery

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – After re-insourcing its bike repair workshop, a distribution center of France's La Poste has begun to recover long-lost knowledge about the work of mailmen and using it to innovate.

Cooking up lean change

PROFILE – In an industry dominated by star chefs and big egos, meeting a humble leader who has made people development his battle cry is a breath of fresh air. PL interviews Legal Sea Food’s Richard Vellante.

The lean veterinarian

INTERVIEW – A 22-people veterinarian hospital in Barcelona has recently turned to lean thinking. We caught up with the owner to learn how things have changed six months into the journey. 

Dramatic lean improvement

FEATURE – How an amusement park in Norway is using lean visual management to support actors during their busy schedule and to give visitors an experience they will never forget. 

A bold lean experiment in one of our kitchens

FEATURE – The lean mindset Legal Sea Foods has developed is allowing the company to run bold, aggressive experiments that might some day reinvent the way their restaurant kitchens work.

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.