Lean Processes – The concept of “Lean Management” or lean administration encompasses all those methods that contribute to carrying out operations at minimum costs, optimizing processes and reducing waste.

The results of the study of the behaviour of the Japanese and American automotive industry led to the establishment of Lean principles for Project Management.

The 5 Principles of Lean Thinking

The 5 Principles of Lean Thinking

Lean thinking is based on five basic principles. Let us remember that the main objective of the lean methodology is “to do more with less”, eliminating waste (Muda), minimizing any activity or operation that does not add value to the product or service we supply. These principles forge the paradigm shift required by all company members to adopt Lean, with the necessary support of the organization’s leaders.

The first principle is based on establishing and being completely clear about what we consider value for the product or service we are examining. Second, we must identify and understand its value stream. In other words, fully understand all the stages, transactions, operations, and activities to supply said product or service. The third principle is related to flow promotion – attacking restrictions (bottlenecks) and arranging the process to facilitate the movement of materials, minimizing waste.

As a fourth point, we must work towards the maturation of our processes so that it is the customer who “pulls” their demand from the supply chain so that, as a supplier, we deliver a quality product, on time, in the required amounts as dictated by a JIT (Just-in-time) system. Finally, the fifth principle of Lean thinking is searching for perfection. Although perfection is not possible, this pillar reminds us that the path of continuous improvement has no end.

Below we explore the 5 Principles of Lean Thinking in more detail:

1) Generate value

The initial principle is of paramount importance. What activities in the supply of my product or service generate value for my customer? The client’s needs must be embodied in a series of specifications, plans, or at least in a value offer. For example, if you run a beauty salon and offer makeup reference images, you must honour that offer to the customer’s satisfaction. The customer specifies, and the manufacturer must produce based on those specifications. The definition of the concept of customer value in the manufacturing sector delivered to the manufacturer through technical documentation. The manufacturer’s task is to supply these needs with minimum shedding consistently.

2) Understand the value chain (VSM)

As we mentioned before, complete clarity required of the series of activities. And operations that must occur to generate value and deliver what the client asks of us. This objective can be achieved through a VSM mapping (Mapping of the Value Chain or Value Stream Mapping) of the current state, and sources of waste – change – can be identified, which must be minimized or eliminated. The VSM allows the analyst to solve problems, understand the flow of communication and information, evaluate the capacity of the process to meet the demand, manage suppliers, and determine the methods where essential activities are carried out for the definition of customer value.

3) Encourage flow

Once the value chain been defined, it is necessary to facilitate the flow of materials. And products to fulfil our promise to the customer. To do this, we have several tools such as the principles of the Theory of Constraints, the Kanban system, Heijunka production levelling, standardization of processes and SWIP (Standard Work in Process), the VSM mentioned above, SMED (change of one-digit dies or Single Minute Exchange of Die), among others. If you have high production volumes, it is also recommended to organize the equipment and machines by flow (as in U-shaped work cells) and not by function (as a machining workshop would do).

4) Pull Production

We refer to a JIT (Just-in-time) philosophy when talking about pull. Developing flexible and robust processes, rapid product changes, efficient information flows, and standardized operations. It seeks to reduce response times, avoid anticipating demand through expensive inventory, producing only when my internal client requires it. In the   Clockwork Pull or Push blog article, an in-depth look at this specific topic.

5) Pursuit of Perfection

Perfection is a path unattainable in our indicators, but we can get closer to it if we instil a kaizen culture of continuous improvement at all levels of our organization.

Why is Lean Management so Important?

Industries such as IT, construction, and education have embraced Lean methodologies for their benefit. Lean project management can improve the value of products with streamlined processes.

Other benefits of lean management:

  • Greater innovation: Projects improve thanks to creativity.
  • Less “waste”: Both physical “waste” and waiting times between production steps reduced. And at the same time, the possibility of overproduction or excess processes minimized.
  • Improved customer service: Customers are given what they need, no more and no less.
  • Better lead times: The result is faster responses and fewer delays.
  • Best quality products: Product defects minimized due to quality controls.
  • Better inventory management: With inventory monitoring, setbacks avoided.
  • Whether the stakeholders are internal or external, shifting to Lean thinking can simplify work processes and lead to greater efficiency in the project team.


Lean project management applies lean concepts such as poor construction, lean manufacturing and lean thinking to project management.

Lean Project Management guides companies in Project Management with high productivity in all project stages. With Lean, the delivery of projects pursued in a reasonable time, with a competitive cost. And a result that satisfies the requests and needs of the clients.

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