The Lean Methodology promotes the flow of value to the client through two guiding pillars: continuous improvement and respect for people. There are also some principles or steps for its implementation.
It is both a philosophy and a discipline that in essence increases access to information to ensure responsible decision making at the service of value creation.
In this article, in addition to understanding this concept in depth, you will see how important it is to insert it into your business. Let´s have a look!
What is and how does the Lean Methodology work?
The Lean Methodology originated in the Toyota Production System, a system of the Japanese vehicle industry that revolutionized the manufacture of physical goods from the 1950s.
It maintains its dominance in manufacturing, but has also found new applications in the work of knowledge, helping companies in all industries eliminate waste, improve processes, and drive innovation.
As we have already mentioned, there are two pillars that guide the whole practice of the Lean methodology:
- Continuous improvement;
- Appreciation of people.
When some people think of Lean Methodology, they think of eliminating waste. While it is true that organizations using this method are intent on eliminating waste, the ultimate goal is value creation.
How does value creation happen?
In Lean Methodology, organizations excel at learning. They set out to learn what their customers want and need – and how to eliminate what they do not want. They work to continually improve so end-to-end value flow is continuously optimized.
How do you learn what is valuable?
With Lean, deliveries are made faster. Thus, fast deliveries, based on what is known about the customer, also generate instant feedback. Whether what is delivered is a failure or a success (or something between these two extremes), there is valuable information on how to improve.
Therefore, it is possible to achieve agility in business, which generates value and helps eliminate waste (financial, time, inputs, productive force, etc.).
The cycle of continuous improvement achieved by organizations applying the Lean Methodology helps them differentiate themselves from competitors. They become more agile, humble and methodical. They encourage their employees to promote a learning mentality and, more specifically, a test mentality.
With the principle of continuous improvement obtained with the Lean method, ideas are tested as many times as necessary before spending money on them. And this is both a path to innovation and a form of risk management.
Valuing the team
Most of the time, the best ideas come from people who have their hands full in the product, service, or process in the making.
Unlike most organizations, where decisions are made at the top of the hierarchy and pushed to the front, Lean Methodology encourages everyone – especially those closest to the production / creation and the customer – have a say, to ensure that the voice of the client and those who do the work be heard.
“Lean thinking” says good people want to do their best job and are motivated to make decisions that optimize their time and talent to create the most value for the customer. This allows the organization to capture the best ideas and fulfill them.
By using Lean Methodology, the organization empowers employees with decision-making autonomy, the opportunity to master their craft, and the purpose (the “why” behind the work) of understanding the value of their efforts. The leader’s role is to set the goal in question and then allow his talented employees to discover the course of action best suited for that purpose.
Leaders are tasked with making the best of their led and removing any obstacles that may prevent their staff from delivering value to the client.
We can say that “Lean leadership” is better defined by what it is not rather than by what it is: it is not command and control, it is not micro-management, it is not moved by the ego or the power of position.
What are the steps for implementing the Lean Methodology?
Some authors, such as James Womack, bestselling author of Lean Thinking, outline five steps to guide the implementation of the Lean Methodology. They are:
- Specify the value of the point of view of the end customer by family of products / services;
- Identify all steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible the steps that do not create value;
- Have the value creation steps occur in tight sequence so that the product flows smoothly toward the customer;
- As the flow is introduced, allow customers to get value from the next activity;
- As the value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and extraction are introduced, start the process again and continue until a state of perfection is reached, in which the perfect value is created without wastage.
Quick Prototyping and Mistakes: How Important Are Tests in Lean Methodology and Modern Business?
As we have seen, prior to making investments, Lean Methodology guides you to conduct tests, both to verify the value generated and perceived by the client and not to incur waste.
This is where the concept of prototyping comes in, which, in a nutshell, refers to an early stage of a product/service version in which evolution of developments and corrections may occur prior to the finalization process.
In software developers, prototyping is often called a “beta phase” or “beta test,” in which an initial design is evaluated by a smaller class of users before full development.
When creating an application, for example, the development team has the following advantages of prototyping:
- enables the experimentation of functionalities, interactions and characteristics;
- identifies and circumvents mistakes earlier, saving money and time;
- achieves effective communication of concepts to stakeholders, users or customers;
- enhances collaboration among members;
- feedback from users.
So prototyping is making “rudimentary” versions to quickly present, get feedback, test results, and make the necessary adjustments. Prototyping is a technique widely used in organizations that apply the Lean Methodology because it is possible to test solutions cheaply and learn from mistakes – which unites continuous improvement with the appreciation of team effort and customer opinion.
As you’ve seen, Lean Methodology is a way to optimize your people, resources, effort, and energy to create value for the customer. It is based on two guiding principles: continuous improvement and respect for people.
Teams across the world, from sales to software development, are using Lean Methodology to sustainably deliver more value to their customers while building healthier, more resilient organizations.
Finally, we leave two very useful tips:
- Fly or Die, a service of MJV Technology & Innovation that validates a service idea or business model in a short period of time through prototyping;
- Idea2Reality, our prototyping service, mainly technological, in our technology labs.
How about you understand what Lean Methodology is and how it works? Contact us and see how we can help you!