Though the idea of minimalism was not widely practiced, it has made its way to the spotlight over recent years. People have found that simplifying their lives leads to a greater peace of mind and a more efficient use of their resources.
This applies to business as well.
Lean management means cutting anything from a business process that does not provide value. Where some stick to how they’ve always done things, you make changes to improve. This may seem risky. However, when done properly, streamlining processes will save you time, labor, and money.
Even small adjustments can make a big difference. Toyota pioneered this concept in manufacturing during the 1980’s. When they realized building vehicles to meet specific sales projections led to wasting parts, they adjusted and began to manufacture vehicles as orders were placed.
When evaluating your own business processes, make sure to take the following steps.
Define what value you are creating.
The first step to creating a lean process is deciding which output to focus on. This value can be a product created to sell to customers or a service offered to clients. Once this is defined, you can identify all of the steps taken in its creation.
Identify the steps used to create this value.
Follow the process of creating this value from start to finish. Clearly lay out each step involved in each part of the process. Then, determine which contribute and which do not. Find processes that lead to unnecessary stalls or create waste. Then, decide how to get rid of them.
Create a strategy to streamline.
Once you find what can be removed, get rid of it. Have a clear, step-by-step plan. This should include all useful steps from how things used to be done adjusted to remove waste. Once this is established, run the process and analyze the results.
Implement your strategy and see what results you get.
Measure the effectiveness of your new processes and see if your value is being created with less waste. Make sure it is actually an improvement over what you did before. Evaluate your results and see how you are already saving resources.
Repeat this process as necessary.
Things are rarely perfect on the first try. Like you have to practice your golf swing to get the best shot, you’ll have to adjust your processes more than once to reach peak efficiency. This should not be a discouragement, but an opportunity to continue learning and really become an expert in your industry.
Never become complacent and always look at how to become more efficient.