Each principle represents a deeply embedded way of thinking that true lean systems thinkers carry with them. They come alive as a lens on your organization to see new forms of leverage. Most of the tools and methods that we associate with lean today are only applications of this thinking.
Each principle carries with it leverage that can yield significant gains in the overall performance of your organization, but when you put them together, the synergy generated can drive your organization to best-in-class or best-in-any-class.
These are the five principles:
Directly Observe Work as Activities, Connections and Flows
If someone asked you to explain the structure of your organization, you would probably pull out an organizational chart and describe what each department or function does on a daily basis. Or perhaps you would explain the products, customers, culture and history of the company. All of these are valid views of the organization, but they aren’t effective views of the organization for the purpose of improving its performance. For that, we need a different filter, a different way of viewing the current reality of the company.
We all have filters that are conditioned by our experiences, our environment, our education, and so on. We are usually unaware what our filters are, but they have a dramatic, even complete, affect on how we think, what we do, and how we see. Walk through a plant with a controller and ask that controller what he or she sees. He or she will see depreciating assets, inventory turnover, and labor and overhead. Is this view wrong? No, of course it isn’t, but it won’t help us create a lean company.