Five overriding principles of Lean.


There are FIVE overriding principles to Lean.


  • Identify Customers and Specify Value – The starting point of a Lean Journey is to recognise that only a small fraction of the total time and effort in any organisation actually adds value for the customer.   By defining Value for a specific product or service from the end customer’s perspective, all the non-value adding (NVA) activities – or waste – can be targeted for removal.


  • Identify (and map) the Value Stream – A Value Stream is the entire set of activities across all parts of the organisation involved in jointly delivering the product or service defined above.   This represents the end-to-end process that delivers the value to the customer.  This may go beyond the ‘factory gates’ to suppliers.


Once you understand what your customer wants the next step is to identify how you deliver it to them.


  • Create Flow by Eliminating Waste – When you first map the Value Stream you will find that only 5% of activities really add value, this may be up to 50% in a service environment.  But in any case, there is still room for improvement!!

Eliminating this waste ensures that your product or service “flows” to the customer without interruption (queuing), detour (unnecessary operations) or waiting.


  • Respond to Customer Pull – This is about understanding customer demand for your service and then creating a process which responds to it.  The aim is to produce only what the customer wants when the customer wants it (and with 100% quality, right first time (RFT). 


  • Pursue Perfection – Creating Flow and Pull starts with radically re-organising individual process steps, but the gains become truly significant as all steps link together.  Over time and with persistence, more and more layers of waste become visible and the process continues towards the theoretical end point of perfection, where every asset and every action adds 100% value for the end customer.

In following the five principles of Lean you will achieve a state where this is “business as usual”. 


Lean ensures that the business is drives towards an organisational strategy that constantly and consistently delivers value to the customer. 


This allows the organisation to maintain a high level of service (higher than its competitors) whilst being able to grow and flex with changing markets.


But it’s not overnight and does require alignment with and between all parts of the organisation.

Andy Dobson – M.D. Lean 4 Business:  “People think this ‘lean stuff’ is all about Manufacturing but in reality, the principles work anywhere!  Put quite simply, if the customer doesn’t value it, why do you do it? – I think I feel a blog post coming on!”




About Lean 4 Business

L4B are a Lean consultancy - but our USP is developmental implementation©. We help businesses to maximise their value, and deliver step changes in productivity.
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