Lean management might be something that’s only coming into focus recently for most of us, but it has been around since the 1450s roughly. It was adopted to a limited degree by Henry Ford back in 1913 for the first time in modern history, but the adoption was incomplete. Toyota in the 1930s managed to perfect the lean management system and adopt centuries-old values and wisdom into modern manufacturing with massive success.
Inspired by the global automotive leader, multiple companies have since then adopted lean strategies for manufacturing and management, to varying degrees of success. If you, too, are interested to know more about lean management, stay with us as we take a brief but informative tour through the basics of what lean is and why it is so useful even today.
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What Exactly is Lean Management?
There are so many different interpretations and principles of lean that have been developed over the decades, that it may actually confuse a newcomer into thinking that lean management is a complicated process. On the contrary, lean is all about simplification. However, there are various subdivisions and philosophies, which are variants of lean but do not exactly adhere to the same rules. Despite all that, it is possible to define lean management as a philosophy for business, which follows a number of definite guidelines that are primarily created with the targets as stated below:
- Eliminate waste by minimizing steps in each micro and macro process
- Order, manufacture and deliver exactly in accordance with what the customer wants
- Set down a stable standard with timely, regular repetitions of the same
- Gather intel on all possible avenues of improvement on the present model, but only implement them when a new standard can be implemented flawlessly
- Level out the workload and depressurize the workforce
What are the Benefits of Adopting Lean?
As should be evident, some of the main benefits of lean strategies are closely linked with:
- Boosted productivity
- Reduced waste
- Better bottom lines
- Improved time management
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Minimizing unnecessary risks
- Making way for active improvement and sustainable growth
However, this is not a definitive list by any means, because lean is so diverse in its application and impact, that a company can only list the benefits they have managed to see from lean management techniques, post-adoption, and implementation.
(Guide) How is Lean Management Applicable in a Healthcare Setting?
Unknown to a lot of people, companies in the healthcare industry are the second most common to adopt lean, after automotive of course. This is true on account of the fact that the philosophies and principles of lean in all its diversity are perfect for improving productivity and decreasing waste in multiple healthcare segments. Taking a cue from Kettering University Online and their post about eliminating waste and increasing efficiency in healthcare with lean management techniques, the following highlights should shed some light on exactly how all of it applies:
- Hospitals and healthcare clinics can reduce patient wait times
- Inventory management is of critical importance in a healthcare facility, and lean can help them with balancing cost in relation to demand
- Defective equipment in the medical field can have tragic consequences; something that lean’s strict philosophy on quality checks does not allow for
- From overproducing and overstocking, to underproducing and understocking – these are problems that lean experts regularly solve for healthcare facilities
- Maximize the physical space by minimizing the need for movement in order to get things done in the emergency, or even outside it
Lean & Digital Technology: The Perfect Combination
If you think about it, the entire digital world is essentially about reducing waste. For example, it eliminates the need for the following on many occasions and will continue to do so even more aggressively in the future.
- Usage of paper has been eliminated drastically since the digital evolution; a global step towards reduced cost and eco-sustainability
- The ease of instant, real-time messaging and emailing is saving an infinite number of hours, which would earlier be wasted
- Automation eliminates the need for human workers to take repetitive steps, freeing up their time for using it in a more productive manner
- GPS systems with real-time updates, minimize the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion or blocked roadway, saving time
- Online courses can keep professional working, studying, and earning simultaneously, while creating a better future for themselves.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the philosophy behind any lean strategy is the fact that it’s a philosophy for business evolution, but standardized, calculated, and controlled evolution, rather than random, unsustainable business growth. Lean is about shedding the fat, but it’s also about building the muscles necessary before progressing to the next stage of growth.