If you have been following any of the business improvement methods over the last ten to fifteen years then you will have no doubt seen the term ‘lean’ being used. Lean manufacturing is one of the most common terms, but it can be applied to all types of businesses including construction, healthcare, services and the public sector.

In fact if you can identify a value stream in your business (or organisation) then you can apply tools from the lean toolkit to help your business to become more profitable, faster, slicker and more reliable whilst also improving the quality of the products or services that you produce.

At Smartspeed we help businesses to drive up their performance using tools from the Lean toolkit, some of which can be seen in the case studies we have on this website. If you are considering applying some of the lean tools to your business then the following tips will help you:

  • Clearly determine what value your value stream is generating. If you are not crystal clear what the customer of your process is wanting you need to go back and find out. This is your datum for making decisions on how to improve.
  • Decide on the style of your improvements. Different foci give different results, as you will ultimately re-design your business for specific needs.
  • Ensure that you gather data from the place of origin (or Gemba) in your workplace. Don’t rely on people giving you opinions, get facts straight from the horses mouth (so to speak).
  • Create multiple ‘future states’. Don’t just rely on getting one perfect ideal state designed. Come up with a few variations and then use a decision matrix to evaluate which options is best for your business.
  • Follow up everything you do. Don’t fall into the trap of trying something and watching it fall over. The term ‘continuous improvement’ is just that – continuous! The PDCA tool is a very simple and effective tool to use in order to track and develop improvements.

Enjoy your lean journey.


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of 'Business Process Re-engineering'.