How to save time using Lean Principles

The workload is beginning to pile up, there’s no visible end in sight and the challenges facing you are starting to appear more and more daunting.

Many of us face a similar situation at work every day. So how can the Lean Principles help you?

It’s well known that Lean Thinking is about creating value for your customers. This can be achieved through reduced lead times, enhanced quality of product or service or increased flexibility in delivering value. 

By continuously improving work practices and procedures, lean aims to deliver goods or services faster using fewer resources. 

Although lean principles originated on the Toyota Manufacturing floor, they can be readily applied to everyday scenarios in our working lives to improve the way we operate. 

Here are three ways of applying Lean Principles to better manage your time every day. 

Focus on the “Customer” 

Typically, many people go about the day doing whatever comes into your line of sight first, answering whoever screams the loudest!

It might be better instead, to develop a habit to reserve 10 minutes every morning, without distractions, to prioritize your work based on the value it provides to the many “customers” you serve. Also remember that we all have “internal” customers, inside the organisation, as well as the “external” customers, the end-users of our products and services.  

Consider what output will our internal and external customers value the most from us today? How can we best serve our co-workers productively and efficiently? 

Developing such a habit will help you understand that you may be wasting most of your “productive” time on activities that are not valued by key “customers.”

Watch Out for Waste 

TIM WOODS is the biggest drain on resources and efficiency in your organisation and you may not even know who he is! TIMWOODS is an acronym referring to the 8 wastes in every business that lead to waste and inefficiency.  TIM WOODS stands for:

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-production
  • Over-processing
  • Defects
  • Skills

A core principle in lean thinking is the elimination of waste.  Waste can come in the form of lost time, material scrapped, and labour expended which doesn’t add value for the customer. 

Use Value Stream Mapping 

The goal of value stream mapping is to eliminate waste by charting a product’s journey from raw materials to the end-user. You can apply the same strategy to efficiently manage projects that require your participation but are not solely your responsibility.

As an example, suppose your company is preparing a public statement regarding a product recall. A marketing manager will provide the “raw materials”–a rough draft. The statement is then “flowed” up the chain to you for approval, possibly passing through several people along the way. After you provide feedback, the draft will be returned to your marketing team and be delivered by a company leader.

If you spend a few minutes sketching the flow of the work through all the process steps before assigning this type of work, you may discover that there will be delays due to waiting or poor planning.

For example, redundant feedback loops or lack of resources (people) at the appropriate time could delay the statement’s release. You can ensure that any product or service is delivered more efficiently if you understand the process steps it flows through and the barriers to the smooth flow of these process steps. 


Contact Us Now