How to get business improvement from the Lean Toolkit

How to get business improvement from the Lean Toolkit

The Lean continuous improvement tool set provides an excellent set of resources for process and productivity improvement for manufacturing and service organisations.

The Seven deadly wastes empowers us with a framework that enables us to look at processes and operations through an enhanced lens for waste elimination in the following areas:

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over processing
  • Overproduction
  • Defects

It’s important to reduce waste, the question that’s hard for the continuous improvement team to answer is:

  • Which waste do we focus on eliminating first?

You may have many processes that have one, some or all of the seven wastes and there is only a finite amount of resource available which leads us to the next question:Free Flow Partners Lean 7 wastes

  • Which process should I start eliminating waste on first?

With competing demands for continuous improvement projects – prioritization becomes a key management challenge.

If the team focuses their ‘Leaning out’ initiative on a process or area that does not yield a noticeable improvement which moves the organisation closer to it’s goal then the benefits experienced are negligible, this can lead to a lack of morale and if repeated the formation of a negative mindset that ‘Lean just doesn’t work here’.

In order to get the best out of the Lean tools you need a focusing mechanism and that mechanism is the Theory of Constraints.

By applying Theory of Constraints you can ensure that your Lean improvement efforts are being harnessed for optimum productivity and bottom line impact.

Any organisation will have a constraint: a limiting factor that’s inhibiting it’s rate of goal achievement.

Identifying this constraint and applying the Lean Six Sigma improvement methodology ensures that improvement efforts are focused in the right area at the right time, which yields significant gains in performance.

So before your organisation embarks on a Lean Journey get your team together and identify your organisations core constraint, you can start this process by answering the following questions:

  • What is our primary goal?
  • What is the one thing/area/process that is stopping us from achieving more of our goal?
  • What is the one thing that if we had more of it would increase our rate of goal achievement?
  • What is the one resource within our organisation that is at fully capacity and which resources are idle?

Answering these questions will you and your team to clarify and prioritise your Lean improvement projects.

If you are interested in learning more about the Theory of Constraints then we recommend reading ‘The Goal’ by the late Dr.Eliyahu Goldratt or you can attend one of our TOC Training Workshops.

P.S. Don’t forget the 8th Waste: Your People – are you fully utilizing your human capital?










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