Lean:  a method of running your business where any and all resources put into the business are considered necessary only if they create value for your customer. Anything else is considered wasteful.

make lean thinking part of your business model

The main idea behind lean thinking is less work, more value. What actions or processes do you include in your business that customers are willing to pay for?

Toyota was the original lean company and their principles are the same as those that started the lean movement. The two main points are:  Treat your customers and staff with respect through various opportunities to learn and grow, always encouraging challenges.

Always focus on improvement in order to deliver the highest quality services and products in the shortest amount of time. This provides value without waste and also cuts down on cost.

When you run a lean business, people always come first, before your products and services. If you hire employees or virtual teams, they are also part of the value added process of your company and anything they do is part of what benefits the customer and must be something they are willing to pay for. Lean means having less but doing more with it.

In order to reduce wasted time and effort in your business, you can do the following: Initiate processes that will ensure work is not redone. Do everything once to the best of your ability.

Don’t pay for employee’s idle time. Hire a virtual team that charges by the hour or project. This means you will receive high quality work with less outlay of your hard earned dollars. Also, their confidence, creativity and skills will improve your standard offering.

Solve problems at their root. Treating the symptoms of major defects in your business will waste your time and money. Remember, problem solving is 20% tools and 80% thinking.

Learn by doing things yourself, then start to train others to do the same. Standardize routine tasks, using methods you have proved will work the best. Lean means using predictability and reliability to your advantage.

Lean thinking is a practise, one that can be used in all aspects of your life. Always ask why you are doing something and the reason for doing it the way you have been up until this time. Improving quality, followed by improving your speed, will result in lower costs and more value for your customers.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc 2013

Image courtesy of lean.org