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Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Post: Defining a Lean Organization is a Matter of Character

Today and tomorrow I will be doing a two part guest post on Christian Paulsen's Lean Leadership Blog. I attempted to define a Lean enterprise by the characteristics that embody a Lean organization. A Lean enterprise simplistically is a company that spreads Lean thinking across its entire organization. Those who find success embody a set of distinct characteristics that can help us understand what it means to be on this Lean journey. The first seven characteristics focus on elements of strategy, alignment, and continuous learning. The next of set characteristics focus on execution and continuous improvement.

Here is an excerpt from this post:

Lean is all about respecting people while eliminating Muri (overburdening), Mura (unevenness), and Muda (non value added activity) in all business processes. It is a philosophy which embodies a manufacturing culture of continuous improvement based on setting standards aimed at eliminating waste through participation of all employees.

While Lean can be beneficially applied to any process within an organization, its greatest benefit comes when it is applied across the enterprise. In The Machine That Changed the World in 1990, Jim Womack, et al., emphasized “that Lean thinking can be applied by any company anywhere in the world but that the full power of the system is only realized when it is applied to all elements of the enterprise.”

Lean focuses on creating and implementing processes throughout the entire organization that are highly responsive and flexible to customer demand. Lean paves the way for delivery high quality products and services, at the right location, at the right time, all in a cost effective and profitable manner.


A Lean Enterprise is not created quickly. To be successful, Lean manufacturing requires building a culture of operational excellence. It’s easy to say (or define), but harder to instill throughout an organization, which is why a lean implementation takes time. But the benefits of lean are undeniable, and those companies who make the journey stand to gain significantly. When a business applies lean thinking, culture, and methods throughout the entire organization and beyond its four walls to customers and suppliers a Lean Enterprise is formed.

To read the full article continue here.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this article! I appreciate the discussion of culture's importance to successful Lean implementations. Specifically, that Lean implementations require the construction of a certain culture to support them long term.