The So Many Meanings of What Is Lean
Lean, in common parlance, would have a lot of definition depending on its usage. It can mean thin or slender; or to rest or bend over. But little do we know about what is lean when used in an economic jargon or within industrial enterprises. I mean, as consumers, we care less about these little intricacies and more about the comfort that we can exhaust from their products and services. But if you are into business, then might as well learn a little bit about what this word means in this arena.
Basically, the common answer that you would get whenever you ask the query what is lean in the business world is that it is the fundamental notion of maximizing customer value while abating wastes. In other words, it is the way of molding a more valuable environment for customers using fewer resources. A lean organization is one who endeavors to understand customer value and zooms in into the key processes that would ensure its continuous growth. In order to achieve this goal, the mainstream of thinking should change course from optimizing separate assets, technologies and vertical departments to augmenting the flux of services and products through the horizontal movement of the aforementioned aspects to the customers. This ordeal of eliminating economic waste all throughout the value streams, instead of at isolated and sequestered points, creates processes that entail lesser human effort, capital, space and time in manufacturing products and services. This in turn channels into outputs, which are responsive to the ever-changing needs and desires of customers. Furthermore, the answer to the question what is lean also relates to its applicability to every industrial process and business undertaking. In other words, contrary to popular misconception that it is only suited for manufacturing, it is actually a renewed perspective for an organization in its entirety.
As a final note to the inquiry what is lean, it is important that you remember its fundamental thrust, i.e. the transformation of the essential business issues that penetrate deep into the entire organization. These issues are purpose, process and people. And with the help of lean transformation, industrial peace is indeed within one’s palm of control.