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Lean Management - for more effective and appreciative work

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Lean Management - for more effective and appreciative work

The Lean Management meaning can be described as "lean management". This principle, which has now become a universal management tool, combines a variety of mindsets, methods and procedures, all of which are intended to help make processes more efficient. Why Lean Management? Lean management is about increasing the quality of products, services and performance in general, thereby ensuring greater customer satisfaction.

The goal of the lean management strategy is to make corporate management more process-oriented and to more efficient to shape the future. This is to be achieved by clearly defining responsibilities and optimizing communication channels. The two most important aspects that distinguish lean management from other management techniques are cost reduction and customer orientation, which are clearly the focus of the lean method. These key topics relate to internal processes and structures as well as to cross-company actions and measures.

Lean Management: What is it?

What is Lean Management? You have already heard or read something about Lean Management and now you are wondering what it actually is? The official Lean Management definition describes it as a modern, efficient and cost-saving management method. The origin of lean management is said to go back to the production system of the car manufacturer Toyota. Based on studies comparing the quality and efficiency of different car manufacturers, it was found that Toyota's efficiency and quality were significantly higher than those of its European and American competitors. A closer look at key criteria revealed that there is huge potential for optimizing processes within the auto industry. These findings formed the basis for the development of lean management, a marketing method designed to create a new corporate culture.

How does lean management work?

What is lean? The lean management system consists of several principles and uses different lean management techniques to achieve the intended goals. Thus, errors and problems, which can basically occur in any company and at any workplace, are considered valuable and classified as an opportunity for further development as well as for the improvement of entrepreneurial processes. Punishments or condemnations, on the other hand, are deliberately avoided. The practical implementation of lean management rules is intended to optimize processes along the entire value chain. The focus is on identifying and eliminating sources of error and other weak points.

lean management principles

Goals of Lean Management

Quality and lean management are a combination that should help reduce costs in the company and at the same time increase the company's success. The main goal of lean management is to reduce waste to a minimum and eliminate the superfluous. By succeeding in optimizing processes and procedures in such a way that they harmonize perfectly with each other, the aim is to achieve this Achieve objective. The focus is on the internal processes that contribute to value creation in the company.

In lean management, it is assumed that both time and costs can be saved through streamlining, so that a company can operate more efficiently. Optimizing measures in the sense of lean management trim the entire value chain for efficiency. More Customer orientation and cost reduction best describes this management technique.

At the same time, the streamlining of processes is linked to the objective that employees should be more motivated and thus complete their tasks more quickly and efficiently. This results in a further goal of lean management: Namely, to ensure continuous improvement of all corporate processes.

Lean management is often mentioned in connection with Total Quality Management (TQM) and Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy of life and work that strives for continuous and infinite improvement. In fact, the Lean process has many similarities with these two methods.

When should I apply lean and where is lean management used in the first place?

Lean management is basically applicable in any industry and in any company.
This management method is applied to:

  • Streamline work processes
  • Increase quality and reduce costs
  • Strengthen customer focus

As a manager, you can implement the lean management principle in a workplace, regardless of the size of the company, the number of employees, or the industry. This form of management is about changing the attitudes and behaviors of employees. This is usually done by introducing employees to Lean methods and training them in Lean principles.

The Lean process consists of several core elements. These are:

  • Identification of error sources and avoidance of errors
  • Standardization and synchronization of processes
  • Systematic qualification of all employees
  • Improve production facilities (in the manufacturing sector).

Flexible behavior of employees

It is understandable that lean management requires flexible behavior, and this is also the biggest challenge in implementing this form of management. When you apply the lean method, you must be able to convince your employees of the benefits of this model.

Employees are expected to already be able to adjust their attitudes and Habits critically and change them if necessary. It is therefore possible that you will encounter headwinds if you want to introduce "lean" management in your company. You should therefore think of good arguments to convince your colleagues of this approach and show them the advantages of a new, flexible way of behaving in the company.

Lean Management Example

Classic lean management examples are the shortening of cumbersome procedures and the optimization of lengthy processes. In every company there are weak points that lead to delays and thus to non-compliance with time limits and deadlines. Valuable working time is used for unessential things instead of taking care of important things. In this context, the lean management method speaks of a starting situation that needs to be reviewed and of project goals that need to be achieved.

A practical Lean Management example can be the situation in a department where there is an enormous amount of administrative work. Due to the time-consuming way of doing paperwork, delays occur again and again, so that deadlines can often not be met. In all the confusion, important information is not forwarded or is lost altogether. With the help of a process analysis, the administrative processes are now analyzed and checked for their effectiveness.

Reveal weak points

This approach enables weaknesses to be uncovered and new insights to be gained. For this purpose, a project group is formed in the company whose participants come from all relevant areas. These include, for example, departments such as accounting, purchasing and sales, but also management and human resources.

In the next step, the actual situation is recorded and analyzed. The entire administrative process is closely scrutinized and the individual process steps are marked as "value-adding" or "non-value-adding". Such an analysis may well contain 100 or more process steps. During the analytical review, it becomes clear which tasks are effective and goal-oriented and which processes prove to be counterproductive.

At the same time, previously unknown sources of error that impede the workflow can be identified. Processes are then adjusted on the basis of these findings. In the process, the activities that were previously classified as "non-value-adding" are eliminated.

Lean management increases work performance

The result of streamlining operational processes is the redesigned workflow, which is now much more efficient and significantly reduces the working time spent on it. With the implementation of some lean management measures, the workload of employees can be significantly reduced and, at the same time, work performance can be increased.

Another Lean Management example is the so-called red rip cord. This is a kind of safety mechanism. Every employee in the company can pull an imaginary ripcord to stop processes as soon as an error or defect is detected. First, an error message is sent to the supervisor. Then, the causes of the error are investigated together until the source of the error is found. As soon as the cause of the error has been identified, the process is optimized accordingly and the process can continue again.

lean management examples

The 5 principles of lean management

A total of five lean management principles form the basis of this form of management. In detail, these are as follows:

  1. Definition of value from the customer's point of view (customer added value)
  2. Identification of the value stream
  3. Implementation of the flow principle
  4. Introduction of the pull principle
  5. Continuous improvement and striving for perfection

In detail, the five lean management principles are described as follows:

1. definition of values from the customer's point of view

The focus of the measures is on customer added value. The first step is to determine which tasks and activities in the company can generate concrete added value for customers. As a manager, you take the customer's perspective and decide which tasks add value and which processes or procedures are superfluous and can therefore be omitted in the future.

To look at each work from the customer's perspective, it's important to answer some questions, such as what customers are willing to pay for and what your company's clientele may not value. Not every activity leads to higher quality products or services. Therefore, decide which tasks are ineffective and which workflows need to be adjusted so that your Team work more efficiently can.

2. identification of the value stream

Review the entire process you want to optimize and make sure that value is created for the customer, thereby increasing customer loyalty to the company. Consider all work and organizational units equally and then decide which activities are necessary to create lasting value.

3. implementation of the flow principle

Avoiding waste is an important criterion in lean management. Activities that have no added value for the customer, the end product or the service should be deliberately omitted. The natural flow without interruptions or waiting times is only created by omitting and avoiding waste of resources.

4. introduction of the pull principle

Responding to customer needs is one of the basic principles of this form of management, which always puts the customer first. In lean management, understanding the customer as well as their needs is considered very important. Processes should therefore be oriented to customer needs in order to increase added value (Principle 1) and avoid waste (Principle 3).

5. continuous improvement and striving for perfection

Aiming for perfection is the ultimate goal of the lean method. Although the implementation of lean approaches often involves extensive changes to business processes and thus a certain amount of effort, each activity ultimately leads to added value for the customer and thus to greater success for the company.

The main advantages of lean management

There are many benefits associated with lean management for a company and its customers. Among the most important benefits are:

  • Focus on important activities by reducing worthless activities
  • Improvement of the Productivity
  • Better utilization of existing resources
  • Cost savings through continuous improvement of operational processes
  • Significant increase in the quality of products and services

Conclusion

For a company, lean management offers numerous opportunities to work more effectively and cost-efficiently through simple restructuring and streamlining of operational processes. As a manager, your task is to develop an understanding of the lean concept as a Management method and to find suitable solutions to process-related or interpersonal problems. Before implementing lean management, it is important to carefully examine what benefits it will bring to the company and to involve the employees.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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