The 5 Lean Principles

There are 5 principles considered to be the recipe for improving a workplace and efficiency;

1. Define Value

Value is what the customer is willing to paying for, so therefore it is paramount to understand what the customers’ requirements or needs are. Sometimes the customer may not know what is they want or are unable to articulate it.

2. Map Value Stream

This second step is about identifying and mapping the value stream using the customer's value as a reference point (from step 1) and identify all of the activities that contribute to these values. The activities that are identified which do not add value to the end customer is defined as waste, non-value added and essential non-value-added. Unnecessary non-value-added activities should be eliminated, and essential non-value activities should be reduced as much as possible.

3. Create Flow

After removing the wastes from the value stream, the next step is to ensure the flow of the remaining steps runs smoothly without delays or interruptions. There are tools that can be used to do this such as balancing the workload, training employees to be multi-skilled, breaking down the production steps and creating cross-functional departments.

Ensuring the smooth flow of the value stream steps without delays or interruptions is a key part of Lean methodology

4. Establish Pull

One of the wastes in Lean is Inventory and work in progress (WIP). A pull-based system will allow for Just In Time (JIT) delivery, where products and materials arrive at the right place they are needed and in the right quantity. Pull based systems are always created from the needs of the end customers by following the workstream backwards.

5. Pursuit of Perfection

The first 4 steps can ensure waste is eliminated and reduced to a minimum, but this 5th step is considered to be the most important. This step ensures all employees strive towards perfection and ensuring Lean thinking and continuous improvement (Kaizen) becomes part of the organisation's culture for the customer's needs.