The Lean Approach – 5 Principles of Lean

The Lean Approach - 5 Principles of Lean

Organizations can utilize the Five Principles of Lean to drive a culture of continuous improvement resulting in improved processes and the elimination of waste.  Below is an overview of those five principles and how you can apply them in your work!

Identify value


It is important to understand where you are providing value.  To understand value, you start by understanding the end product of your efforts.  How will your customer benefit from your services, product or effort?  Value, by definition, is products, services or processes that the customer is willing to pay for.  Even if you are not producing direct value (i.e.. the end product) you are enhancing the value to the customer for the business.

Map the value stream


This is the path that material or information flows from start to finish.  This is a visual map of every step of your process.  In the beginning, it’s important to focus on mapping the value-added steps of your process.  Then, add details for each step of the process.  This map will be used to track value and identify waste.  It should be updated occasionally as the process evolves.

Create flow


Basically “flow” means to move along in a steady, continuous stream.  When looking at the value stream, the flow of information or material is important to understand.  Any interruption in flow (also known as a bottleneck) should be identified and resolved because waiting is waste.

Establishing pull


Pull is a way of looking at how you do business based on when there is a demand for it.  With a pull-based approach, the team understands the needs of the customer and can provide value without excess time, work or production.  This allows employees to pull the next task and prioritize work to prevent overload while meeting the time targets of the customer.

Seek reflection


This is the core of Lean Methodology – to continuously improve.  The goal is to constantly seek improvement in every process by focusing on areas that generate value for the customer and eliminating waste.  Continuous improvement is everyone’s responsibility.  One way to seek perfection is by using a Plan-Do-Check-Act mindset. We will talk in depth about the PDCA mindset in our next blog. Make sure to follow along!


To learn more about Lean Six Sigma, click here.