Lean Thinking — it makes all the difference

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During the last thirty years, a new way of thinking has been creeping across the business landscape. Old paradigms of how to manufacture the most products at the lowest costs have given way to a fresh, Lean approach.

Lean Thinking is a perspective, a mindset, that focuses on streamlining process flows. It’s about paying attention to what works and trimming out what doesn’t. It means doing only those activities that add customer value and eliminating any activities that don’t.

The term “lean” was coined to describe a shift in Toyota’s manufacturing practices that took place during the late 1980s. The company wanted a better approach to manufacturing cars, and they achieved it: Lean drastically improved operations efficiency.

Although Lean Thinking was a paradigm shift that originated in the arena of manufacturing, its principles and practices are easily applied to every business and every process.

The goal of a Lean approach is to increase value for the customer.

There are five basic principles of lean operations:

  1. Identify the activities that create value
  2. Determine the sequence of activities (also called the value stream)
  3. Eliminate activities that do not add value
  4. Allow the customer to “pull” products/services
  5. Improve the process (start over)

Today, Lean Thinking goes far beyond manufacturing. Lean Construction, for example, applies to owners, architects, designers, engineers, builders, and suppliers — everyone in the pipeline of a building project.

Lean Thinking is a fresh perspective, one that’s not just about making a profit. It’s human-centric and customer-focused. And in this way a lean approach applies equally as well to service industries as well as product manufacturing.

The shift to a Lean business brings value — to everyone. This streamlined way of thinking and acting affects an entire organization and its customers.

Don’t be misled, however. Lean is not about cost-cutting or reducing staff. It’s about streamlining for more value and putting extra resources — including human resources — to a different use where they can contribute more value to customer service or the final product.

How does a company incorporate a Lean viewpoint? It’s simple: the leaders simply choose to support a Lean perspective. They start to think Lean and act Lean. And that’s exactly what’s happened at Meridian Structural Engineering.

We see the value of Lean Thinking. It can improve how a team works together and raise the bar of client interaction. Lean engineering is about teamwork, efficiency, cooperation, and collaboration. Our Lean approach — flexible, responsive, human-first —is what sets Meridian apart. It makes a difference.