Lean Thinking is an effective management philosophy based upon several key principles and strategies aimed at the elimination of unnecessary waste and wasted effort. It makes use of a small set of tools and concepts that make and deliver the greatest possible value to the customer's standpoint while consuming the least resources possible. Lean Flow is one of the underlying concepts that make up this valuable management philosophy. It works by breaking down the work needed to do an activity into a series of individual “processes” and working according to the priority level required for completing the activity.
Lean Flow works well when there are a lot of activities to be done in an organization, or when the number of people who need to do them is growing rapidly. The organization may have a variety of activities going on at the same time, or it might be dealing with many inquiries and concerns. In any case, Lean Flow is not about doing as many things as possible, but about doing the ones that are the most important, and least time-consuming. For example, if there are six million calls each month at the call Centre, the organization needs to be focusing on reducing those calls to only a few hundred each month. The Lean Flow mindset would look at that situation and work towards eliminating the calls that are not productive — or at least putting the highest priority on those calls that should be immediately terminated.
Lean Flow and the concept of Lean Thinking can be applied to just about any type of business. The most common applications are in manufacturing and service industries. Service industries are usually called customer oriented and are the first point of contact for the customer. Most often, they are the root of problems within an organization. An effective lean organization will have excellent communication with its customers.
A typical training workshop allows participants to be given real life case studies and scenarios that can help to get an organization to look at its waste or what it is doing now to make sure it is reducing waste and creating better working environments. It is very difficult these days to find a company or business that is not using some form of automation in some capacity. Automation is a great way of getting things done that are difficult or time-consuming to do manually, such as completing and processing payroll. Using automation, companies can process more tax claims in one day than they could if they had to do everything by hand. The advantages of using a lean thinking process improvement strategy through a virtual online workshop are many.
There is a requirement for total buy-in from employees before a business can implement any of the Lean Six Sigma Solutions. If an employee doesn't buy into the change, then that person is not going to be part of the solution. In fact, that employee may well sabotage the Lean process because it will become too costly. Some people resist change and will fight against it tooth and nail, irrespective of how good the benefits of that change are. This is why getting buy-in at the earliest is so important.
Lean Six Sigma training is best when it is incorporated into the work environment immediately. Most workshops allow participants to use visual examples during the training sessions to illustrate how processes should be incorporated into the workplace. However, most trainees don't go out of their way to integrate what they've learned into their daily work lives because it's easy to get distracted and spend most of the time performing activities that don't have anything to do with the solutions presented in the training sessions. Visual examples cannot distract participants from their current tasks. They also don't take away time that could be spent on problem-solving or creative thinking. Therefore, visual examples need to be incorporated immediately into the day-to-day work environment in order for participants to understand the improvements that need to be applied.
Lean Six-Sigma implementation requires that people understand the various stages of the process and be able to map them using a series of value stream maps. Once these maps are in place, it becomes much easier to see when processes are floundering along and when they need to be tightened up. Once the organization has established a process flow with a number of detailed value stream mapping tools, it becomes much easier to identify bottlenecks and opportunities to transform the organization.
A great Lean Six Sigma workshops should identify the problems that participants might not be aware of and give them tips on how to overcome them. These tips come in the form of case studies, interactive exercises, and videos that participants can watch after the training session is over. When people learn how to identify these problems and take action, they will see wasted time and money being wasted on activities that don't add value to the organization. The better the process flow, the more value that is added to the organization. The better the value stream mapping tools and exercises are, the more quickly results will show up in the overall measurement of Lean Six Sigma implementation efforts.