Is your business lean?

Joe DeCoursey | Apr 03, 2014

The goal of creating a “lean” business is to provide customers with perfect value without any waste.  While this goal of perfection is unrealistic, it provides a guide for owners and entrepreneurs seeking to build businesses faster, reduce inefficiencies, and increase profitability.  Creating a leaner business is not entirely about cost reduction; it involves the creation of a mindset for the entire business.

“The Three P’s””

The Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) specializes in helping businesses develop lean thinking.  LEI identifies purpose, process, and people as fundamental drivers of a business’ lean transformation.

“Purpose: What customer problems will the enterprise solve to achieve its own purpose of prospering?

Process: How will the organization assess each major value stream to make each step is valuable, capable, available, adequate, flexible and that all the steps are linked by flow, pull, and leveling?

People: How can the organization insure that every important process has someone responsible for continually evaluation that value stream in terms of business purpose and lean process? How can everyone touching the value stream be actively engaged in operating it correctly and continually improving it?””

“Just as a carpenter needs a vision of what to build in order to get the full benefit of a hammer, Lean Thinkers need a vision before picking up our lean tools,” said James Womack of the Lean Enterprise Institute. “Thinking deeply about purpose, process, people is the key to doing this.”

Lean principles, first implemented by Toyota during the late 1980’s, can be applied to any industry.  Companies from all sectors are attempting to use lean principles to increase revenue, create processes with less human effort involved, minimize space requirements, reduce budgets, eliminate defects, and speed production time.  To learn more about implementing a lean transformation in your business, visit and read Lean Thinking by Womack and Daniel Jones, two of the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute.

Content contributed by Robert Kane, State of Ingenuity SourceLink (Wisconsin/Illinois). State of Ingenuity SourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S. SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.

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