In a previous blog post, What you need to know about Lean Six Sigma, we claimed that EVERYONE in an organization benefits from implementing Lean principles. Not only do Lean principles reduce waste on the plant floor, they also improve customer service, accounting processes, marketing and more. Below are seven Lean principles that benefit professionals in every industry.
1. Increase value for the customer
All departments are responsible for creating value for customers. Engineers can design quality into a product; accounting can ensure that paying for the product is uncomplicated; and marketing can make sure the benefits being promised to the customer are accurate.
2. Reduce waste
Simply converting to a paperless organization reduces a tremendous amount of waste. Changing to energy-efficient bulbs, putting lights on motion sensors, and unplugging unnecessary equipment are other ways to reduce waste.
3. Go to the work area
Every employee at a company should be aware of what the company produces, and how it produces it. Take employees on a facilities tour. Lean manufacturing focuses on uncovering what’s working and what’s not. Without seeing a process from start to finish, employees may not be able to provide educated solutions to problems.
4. Give employees a voice
Companies that value employee feedback demonstrate greater morale and are often more successful. If a company is truly committed to Lean ideas, employee feedback is critical. Maybe it's a shipping process, or maybe it’s the long lines at the employee cafeteria – either way, there should be an outlet for employees to discuss possible improvements to daily challenges.
5. Map the value stream
Diagramming activities for each unit in an organization is helpful to visually analyzing effectiveness. How many steps does it take to process a vendor invoice? Are there multiple copies, (both paper and digital), being saved? Are employees required to attend training they don't need, (or are they missing out on training they need)? Value stream maps allow you to see redundancies and missing components.
6. Create flow
Making sure things flow logically from one department to another, instead of causing hold ups or repetitive passes, increases the efficiency of an organization. It doesn’t have to be the flow of physical materials, it can be the flow of how ideas are translated from person to person, and department to department.
7. Aim for continuous improvement
Don’t be content with average. Always aim to improve as an employee, a department and as a company.