What is lean management?

Posted September 21st, 2011 in What is Lean Management and tagged , , by Vivek Naik

Lean management is an important part of lean thinking. As we implement lean in any organization the traditional way of managing does not guarantee right focus nor help sustaining lean initiatives. If no action is taken to change the way we manage process, people and products we are likely to see failure of lean implementations. Many people on lean journey fail to apply lean in a holistic manner. Usually they start with applying tools without proper guidance and leadership the company cannot move to the next level. Thus a management system that specifically meets the needs of a transforming organization is very much essential.

So what is traditional management and why does it fail to sustain Lean?
One of the main characteristic of traditional management is that it is resulted oriented. Is it good or bad to be result oriented? It is not bad to have goals but once people stop caring about how to get there rather and only focus on end result, that’s when we have a problem. This leads malpractices like expediting orders, over production, and excess inventory. You must be wondering how management leads to these problems. If you are in any manufacturing organization you will be able to relate to this problem better. Here are few examples:

  • How many times have you expedited the order by doing overtime just because you had to meet the same day delivery goal.
  • Have you kept producing even when there was no demand just because just because you needed to show better utilization of the operators?
  • Do you keep excess inventory to hide the inefficiencies related to your process or machine breakdowns?

These are just few but are common problems that will help you relate to the problem created by mismanagement. The problems are so easily accepted as a part of our daily life, that we hardly question these practices. Only with right mindset and proper management you can facilitate the change.

What is lean Management?
Lean is all about customer focus. Value is defined by the customer and we develop and maintain processes to provide this value. Processes are run by people. Only support and proper leadership and guidance you can drive your people to continuously improve the processes that add value to the customer. The management system that helps you to achieve this is a Lean Management system. Lean Management system uses various tools to connect the purpose (Providing value to customer) to the process and people. Some of the lean management tools which are commonly used are Leader standard work, visual control boards, and daily accountability.
The tools itself are not effective unless used with right mindset. There is a lot of work needed to be done at individual level for the mangers to become lean managers. To start with lean management we have to start developing managers in to “Lean Managers”. What are you doing to become a lean manager?


6 Responses so far.

  1. Chandan Sharma says:

    I truly have this bitter experience of how the LEAN initiatives are being thrown to dustbins. Most of the time, the LEAN is perceived to be “layoff” or the change is directly going to impact the way the things are carried out..

    your article is quite bang on target. Thanks for sharing your thoughts….

  2. I’m glad to see someone defining lean about value and the customer, instead of being all about waste. I agree with that premise, and explain why here:


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  4. […] wrong in having goals, but the problem lies in the means to achieve the goals (More about this here). Under traditional management, people who focus on the means are not always recognized. Like one […]

  5. sidiqi says:

    tomorrow i have exam of lean management . so this information support me to get more knowledge about lean management . thanks

  6. Gauri Shankar says:

    Timely technical improve ment which quality improve according to customers. .thanks

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