"Continuous improvement is nothing, but the development of ever better methods." — Mary Walton
The focus of Lean Thinking is to foster an organization that is committed to finding better ways to serve its customers. Workers are encouraged to be mindful of problems that can arise and empowered to explore their work processes further to identify opportunities to improve.
As a continuous process, lean manufacturing is sometimes divided into three different stages. First, any wasted labor, space, supplies or time is removed to lessen production costs. Second, a policy of continuous improvement is implemented, where the company dedicates itself to finding newer and better techniques to use in overall manufacturing. Third, the company investigates more specific techniques that apply directly to what sort of product it is manufacturing or what service it is providing and how innovations or new methods can be used to lower costs even more.
Lean is all about finding better ways to do things, so that they require less effort, less time and fewer resources. It is not about cost reduction – penny-pinching, cutting investment, taking out people – it is about finding better ways to get work done. It is about developing a mindset, methods and tools to identify and eliminate waste in all its forms at every opportunity. It is about freeing-up resources because you no longer need to use them.
Lean requires that everyone is committed to finding better ways to do things. This means excellence in everything we do for our customers as well as ourselves. Continuous improvement is how to achieve excellence and without it, you cannot become a Lean organization.