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How to live a lean life...

25 Apr 2014

I've known about lean thinking for five years and am starting to see it filter into many different sectors; my view is that lean is going impact on all sectors in the foreseeable future and will have a positive impact across the board.

Lean thinking can be applied to any organisation in any sector - although lean's origins are largely from a manufacturing sector, the principles and techniques can be transferred to a range of other sectors such as healthcare, financial services, and even in recruitment.

But what is lean thinking?

Ultimately, it's about maximizing value minimizing waste, with the aim to produce a high standard outcome with the least amount of resources or waste.

The first step is to define
What looks good, what does the end user want, and how does it look in an ideal world?

The second step is measuring
Measure the current product to the 'what looks good' product, look at what's different and how the results will differ. You need to prove that the end product will be better - not just say it will. This stage involves a lot of data collecting and analysing to prove your theory, but it will be worth it!

Then, analyse
What you are currently doing and, most importantly, why are you doing it? What is the reason why the process is done in that particular way, is it a regulation? Is it a requirement? Or is it 'just because it's the way it's done'?

It's at this stage where some processes will be classed as waste. You're doing them because that's the way it is done and has been for years but it doesn't necessarily make it the right way.

Fourth step is to improve
What can you improve and where? This is where blue sky thinking comes into play - think outside the box be daring and creative with your suggestions.

I have seen regulations change due to this very method so don't be shy cut out all the admin, the extra clicks of a button, and the duplications on systems that don't actually have a purpose to the end user or the organisation.

Fifth step - control
Once you have identified the waste and created the new improved process you then need to control it.

Review the process with these five steps each time get feedback from colleagues, managers and the end user and you will see the difference and the time you save not to mention the money that's saved.

Have you taken part in lean thinking, or do you think there are more effective ways to create efficiency in the workplace? Leave your thoughts and experiences below.

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