Lean Methodology 101

Julie McKeon

Optimize “Lean concepts” and build a solid foundation for efficiency work Have you ever wondered what makes a system or a process truly “efficient”? Or …

Optimize “Lean concepts” and build a solid foundation for efficiency work

Have you ever wondered what makes a system or a process truly “efficient”? Or wondered if your current thought process holds you back?  Even wondered what steps you yourself can take to optimize your own personal “efficiency”?  I am honored to introduce you to Lean methodology.History Future

Our efficiency roots here at CornerStone Dynamics are stemmed from the concepts of the Lean methodology.

Start learning the basic concepts of: the 5S technique, value and non-value added activities and how to eliminate of “waste”; you can build a solid foundation for any efficiency work.

Before we begin, let’s rewind back to 1910 for a brief history lesson.

We all know Henry Ford. Henry improved the way items were manufactured by creating the moving assembly line. This creation took manufacturing to a new level. Henry originally developed and practiced “lean concepts” as he reduced the manufacturing lead time on the Model T. His lean concepts and being able to think differently allowed him to expedite the assembly line wait time from 1 day to 90 minutes.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that Toyota Motor Company fully developed the lean concept. Toyota spent time, energy and effort to iron out the bumps. Once Toyota had fine-tuned this concept it was named the Toyota Production System (TPS).

By the mid 1970’s, U.S. manufactures noticed the positive impact of TPS and adopted these principles and named it Lean Manufacturing.

Lucky for us today, this methodology is not only used in the manufacturing sector, but in all business sectors, services and everyday life.

So, let’s investigate what lean really is?

Lean is about continuously improving ways of working resulting in the customer and company having a win-win relationship by increasing quality and decreasing costs. Lean creates “value” to the customer by eliminating “waste” in the system. It focuses on efficiency by optimizing flow.

Ok, now here’s the English terminology: using common sense when brainstorming alternate solutions, assessing problems or ways of working that adds value.

Here’s a simple scenario that is relatable: Do you ever find yourself riding the elevator to various departments just to receive a signature or seek approval? Do you then find yourself wondering around trying to locate the person? Do you find yourself getting caught up in water cooler chat? Do you finally get back to your desk 30 minutes later and wonder why accounting is located on the 8th floor when your department on the 5th floor interacts with them daily?

If your first thought is to question this process, congratulations! You’re thinking lean. You’re able to see where waste exists. You realize that it would make sense to have these 2 departments located near each other.

Your time is valuable and it only makes sense to use it wisely and stop minor stoppages. Everything we do impacts our daily outcomes.

So what are minor stoppages?

They are small interruptions in our daily activities that simply waste time. Why is this important to look at? Well, when you add up all the minor stoppages it becomes a major roadblock to getting things done and one of the bottlenecks to becoming efficient.

Having an understanding of the area for improvement is a great way to start eliminating “waste” in the system. You must start thinking differently when addressing issues, projects and process. Remember to focus on efficiency by optimizing flow.

Now let’s look at minor stoppages

Lean Blog - Minor Stoppages Image - JM















Take a look around your organization for areas that need improvement. Going lean isn’t an over-night task but there is one thing you can start doing today, focus on simplicity. Get your employees involved, encourage suggestions and reward for excellent suggestions if you want to solve minor stoppages that are holding your competitive edge back.

Lean thinking is a philosophy. It is a skill set that must be taught, tools learnt and process solutions implemented in daily decision making. We hope that you enjoy this blog and it brings new perspective on the tools we use here at CornerStone Dynamics.

Once this concept of thinking is incorporated into company culture, it brings about positive changes on employees’ ways of working.

What wastes do you want eliminated to make your job easier?  Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Julie McKeon was a project coordinator with CornerStone Dynamics Inc. Julie's 'What the heck' blogs explore the editorial calendar from a new-comer’s perspective.

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