What is Lean?

What is lean? Lean is not an acronym. It is a term coined by James Womack to describe the philosophy and approach demonstrated in the Toyota Production System. It is a systematic, customer-centric approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement.

The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.  Waste is defined as any action that does not add value to the process.


1. Specify value from the standpoint of the customer.

2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each service line, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.

3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the service will flow smoothly toward the customer.

4. As flow is introduced, think of ways to signal you are ready for the next step.

5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue reaching for a state of perfection in which perfect value is created with no waste.

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